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2024 Growing Futures Career Catalyst

Growing Futures Career Catalyst Pre-Apprenticeship Training

RINLA’s annual entry-level job training program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for people interested in working for the plant-based industry but who have no prior experience and no real pathway to this career. Our training provides this direct pathway to a job, connecting participants with jobs immediately upon graduation.

RINLA enrolled 40 trainees into this year’s Growing Futures Career Catalyst (GFCC) training program, which
ran from January 22 to February 23, 2024, in the Arcadia Management Area. Under the supervision and support of 12 crew leaders experienced in the field of landscaping and horticulture, trainees participated in maintenance activities and projects developed by RIDEM District Resource Manager Jeff Arnold to improve the conditions of the recreation trails throughout multiple areas in Arcadia’s hiking areas. In all weather conditions, program participants pruned overgrown vegetation, learning proper techniques and tool safety, and worked in teams to build new footbridges in remote parts of the forest. They applied knowledge learned from their online classwork in the field, identifying plants and concepts of horticultural science, exercising an understanding of volume and measurement in the field, and practicing communication and conflict resolution skills.

By the end of the training, graduates received badges marking their completion of each component of the program, along with a write-up of their strengths based on their performance. Badges were issued for participation in up to 84 hours of physical work for restoring public rails in Arcadia; up to 16 hours of engaging in communication, respect and conflict resolution classes; up to 16 hours of online and in-person activities focused on basic math and science concepts for the green industry; 16 hours of online coursework in basic horticulture concepts; and 8 hours of online coursework in basic landcare concepts and practices. From the 40 trainees who began the GFCC training, 30 graduated and were eligible to attend this year’s Job Fair.

Job Fair

At the end of this year’s GFCC, RINLA facilitated its ninth job fair since the beginning of Growing Futures programming. On February 29, 15 companies were joined by 28 job seekers for a full day of interviews, facilitated by RINLA staff. Between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., 132 interviews were held. Companies present included a representation of fine gardening companies, tree companies, nonprofits, hardscaping and construction, nurseries, and farms. They were also diverse in size as well, featuring small, family-owned enterprises to large-scale, multi-state corporations.

Some interviewees were offered jobs on the spot, many receiving multiple offers within days of the job fair. RINLA staff made themselves available to interviewees for help navigating multiple offers and making the best decision for their finances and careers. Of the 53 companies invited to participate in this year’s job fair, 15 accepted, and 4 of these were new participants. Beyond the job fair, 3 more companies hired directly from RINLA’s job board, where graduates and program participants can make a profile and post their resume, as well as search and apply directly to jobs posted by companies.

Registered Apprenticeship
Career Catalyst Crew Leaders

To help us facilitate the GFCC learning and working environment, we enlist the help of Registered Apprentices, many of whom have graduated from previous years of the GFCC and who have first-hand experience not only working for the industry and one of our member employers, but in Arcadia Management Area as well.

Registered Apprentices who work for us during this time are paid a competitive wage, are evaluated by RINLA staff, and are granted Related Training Instruction (RTI) hours toward their graduation of the Registered Apprenticeship program. We have found that through their work as crew leaders in the GFCC, they gain invaluable experience as mentors and supervisors, learning to manage a crew of people with varying strengths and challenges, and that this experience enables them to leverage higher pay and promotion of responsibilities upon their return to their employers.

Their time with us also allows for them to be paid during their seasonal layoff period, thus enabling them to earn more for the year. This year, we employed 12 apprentices as crew leaders, granting them up to 58 hours of RTI, commensurate with the amount of time they worked. Trainees graduating from the GFCC who then go on to work for member companies and register for apprenticeship receive up to 70 hours toward their RTI, again commensurate with their hours of attendance.

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