At the end of each working day, Lauren Ries loves taking a step back and admiring what she’s achieved.
“I love to look at something I’ve created that wasn’t there before,” the 27 year-old says. “I like the fact I get to be creative in my work space. I don’t see myself ever working in an office job.”
The apprentice landscape technician works for Outsiders Ltd in Wellington and spends her days constructing patios, timber decks, retaining walls, pergolas, fences and other garden features.
“The job’s quite broad which is one of the things I like about it. We focus mostly on the construction side of it but our company also does a bit of garden maintenance and plant ups as well so we do soft-scape work too.”
Lauren grew up in Taranaki and loved to build things as a child using left-over materials around her family’s farm. She studied conservation at university in the hopes of one day working for DOC but decided to change direction when she returned home from her OE.
Outsiders CEO Chris Logan was “kind enough to give me a chance” and she soon signed up for a formal apprenticeship which involved on-the-job training and study through Primary ITO.
Lauren has now almost completed her Level 4 National Certificate in Horticulture Services (Landscape) while working fulltime and says the extra effort has been well worth it.
“It’s helped give me a broader understanding of what’s going on. When someone’s explaining the plan for a particular job, I have a much better grasp of all the basics.”
Lauren’s study has included papers on topics such as plant identification, retaining walls, concrete and reinforced concrete, planting, sundry materials, timber treatment and timber grading.
“The timber papers are a big help when I’m going to pick up supplies at Placemakers and I have to select what materials to use for different jobs. My study has also helped a lot in terms of communication. If someone tells you to prune the hydrangeas you don’t want to accidentally cut down the wrong thing.”
Lauren says landscaping is a terrific career if you enjoy creating things or working with your hands. Her advice to others considering workplace training and study is to “keep at it a little bit at a time”.
“It definitely can be a steep learning curve. There’s something new I come across every day. You also have to be quite strict with yourself to do your course work because it’s easy to put it off. You need to keep yourself motivated and have your end goal in mind. But I’ve found it doesn’t take much to do a few hours at the end of the day. Some people even do their study first thing in the morning but I prefer to do mine at night.”
Primary ITO provides a dedicated Training Advisor to help guide people through their study, and Lauren says the system works very well. “Jonathan’s been very patient with me handing in my course work and if I’m ever confused about what direction to go in, he puts me back on the right path.”
Lauren says she enjoys working with her Outsiders colleagues who are all pretty laid back, but not afraid of hard work. The career path she’s chosen and the qualification she’s nearly achieved will “definitely be worth it in the end”.
“Eventually I’d like to own my own business. Landscaping is really good fun and the skills I’ve learnt will always be useful and are something I’ll keep using for the rest of my life.”