DAD-OF-ONE Lee Perkins has swapped the nightclub for the golf club by becoming the latest to sign up to a new apprentice campaign in Oxfordshire.

The 35-year-old started his apprenticeship in horticulture two years ago after switching from a job in bar and nightclub management.

Mr Perkins works at Hinksey Heights Golf Club, South Hinksey, while completing his apprenticeship at Abingdon and Witney College He started the apprenticeship two years ago and is now working towards his National Vocational Qualification Level Three.

And his commitment has already paid off as he was made head greenkeeper of the club last August, putting him in charge of caring for three courses including the 18-hole championship course and managing two members of staff.

The 100 in 100 apprenticeship campaign, backed by the Oxford Mail, has already seen 85 places created by county employers in less than 50 days.

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood has officially backed the campaign and made a special visit to meet Mr Perkins yesterday.

Ms Blackwood said: “The National Apprenticeship Service’s fantastic early success in its efforts, supported by fantastic further education colleges such as Abingdon and Witney College, for apprenticeship opportunities.

“We need to be helping young people find the jobs they need, help small businesses find the employees they need and help create the skills and jobs we need here in Oxfordshire to grow our economy.”

Mr Perkins, who has a 10-year-old son, Taylor, said: “The lifestyle and hours of bar management did not really suit me and working outside really appealed to me.

“Having had a job, it was difficult to go back into education, so the apprenticeship has been great for me as I can work and learn at the same time.

“The experience has given me confidence and I feel I have achieved something in life.”

Dean Davis, head professional and director of golf at Hinksey Heights, said: “This scheme has benefited both the company and individuals and we will look forward to putting more employees through the scheme later in the year.”

Mike Gaston, vice principal of Abingdon andWitney College, one of 25 colleges, local authorities and training providers backing the campaign, said: “By working collectively we can bring real value to employers, learners and ultimately Oxfordshire’s economy.”

Zeena Cala, employer services director for the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “As announced in the Budget, it is encouraging the Government is planning to invest more in apprenticeships with the additional 40,000 places, which will provide the capacity to support young unemployed people and 10,000 higher apprenticeships focused on small to med-ium sized businesses.”