‘You didn’t know what you were doing beforehand; we just arrived and had the flowers we needed in front of us. We were all kept in the dark but everyone was in the same boat,’ says Charlotte Baker, a floristry apprentice who competed at The Skills Show in Birmingham in November.
The competition, which was held over two days and was seen by up to 70,000 spectators, featured 12 florists competing in a series of categories including creating free expression arrangements and design drawings, creating a bridal bouquet and designing a champagne bottle.
Aged 22, Charlotte had been studying for the Level 3 Floristry qualification at a local college in Henley when the course was forced to close due to lack of funds. While working in Hubbard’s Florist, a family-run business owned by her grandfather, Charlotte was keen to carry on her training when she found out about KEITS, an independent training service that delivers adult skills and apprentice qualifications in the workplace using City & Guilds as the awarding body.
The KEITS training service appealed to Charlotte due to its practical curriculum and focus on ‘shop days’. ‘I don’t have to take a day out of work to go to college, which is a lot more convenient,’ she explains.
Charlotte’s KEITS assessor, Melanie Webb, visits the shop once a month to guide her in her training. ‘I have been working with Charlotte’s employer now for approximately five years,’ says Melanie. ‘Charlotte had not long left school when I first knew her. I could see that she had potential straight away, and her skills have progressed along with her confidence.’
Now nearly a year into the training programme, Charlotte’s passion for her trade has continued to bloom, and she is planning to go on to do her Level 4 Higher Diploma followed by a Level 5 Master Diploma in Floristry. ‘In floristry, every day is different, especially in a busy shop like this.’ After achieving professional florist status, Charlotte hopes to open her own shop.
A second KEITS apprentice, Hannah Barlow, also saw success in The Skills Show winning a bronze medal in the Floristry Advanced Apprentice category. Hannah, 23, who works at The Sodbury Florist in Chipping Sodbury, Wiltshire, has completed her Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications in floristry.
And while it may seem that Hannah and Charlotte need little more reason to be happy, the City & Guilds Career Happiness Index released last November reveals that florists and gardeners are the happiest workers in the UK. Of the florists and gardeners surveyed, 87 per cent said they were happy in their work, compared with just 44 per cent of bankers and 48 per cent of IT professionals.
Find out more about the City & Guilds Career Happiness Index: www.cityandguilds.com/happiness