Planting the right skills

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has been recognised as a National Accredited Apprenticeship Provider. This accolade is the latest piece in a comprehensive jigsaw of education and training services that are unmatched for their efficacy and cost-effectiveness for all its clients – including those involved in more general groundscare such as maintaining the sports, amenity and open areas within and around local authorities.
More than 10,000 grounds professionals have benefiting during the past ten years alone from training and education services provided by the IOG, a City & Guilds/NPTC-approved delivery body and a provider of qualifications and courses accredited in line with National Occupational Standards (levels 1, 2, 3 and 4).

In addition to being attended by grounds professionals from across the sports spectrum, IOG training and education courses are increasingly being taken up by a swathe of public and private organisations covering all sports and amenity services, and embracing both the professional and volunteer sector – and for good reason, as Ian Lacy, the IOG’s head of professional services, explains: “Whether it is an in-house local authority team or a specialist contractor that provides a range of services for local councils, the rules remain the same for each individual: the better qualified you are then the better the chance of employment – and as your skills/career progresses, so the financial rewards should also increase proportionally.
“There is, of course, a similar benefit for employers and their clients; a more highly trained and qualified workforce will generally lead to satisfied customers and, undoubtedly, a greater amount of business opportunities while also providing clients with a very professional service.”  
The training could start with the basics of operating hand-held and ride-on machinery, pesticide and fertiliser application then extend to a range of specialist maintenance procedures that will vary according to the type of grounds you are charged with.
As you progress in your career and become responsible for managing budgets, personnel and the purchase of machinery and products, as well as advising on and implementing annual maintenance programmes and renovations, the IOG continues to offer the appropriate training so that you are armed with skills to handle these tasks.

The IOG offers training and education that covers the complete gambit, starting with basic lawn care, and they are now also developing a foundation degree for groundsmanship. The result is that the IOG provides a one-stop, end-to-end training and education service that will suit every need. And because not every course is work-based, with the IOG’s Moodle virtual learning platform, students can in a number of cases study at their own pace and in their own time.
Lacy adds: “Training (initially one-day courses) extends, for instance, from health and safety to the use of strimmers and mowers (pedestrian and ride-on) plus tractor driving and pesticide application. Also included here are short courses in weeds, pests, diseases and disorders, grass identification, drainage and synthetic surfaces.”

In terms of education, the IOG offers a variety of courses, including Key Skills (City & Guilds) and IOG National Practical Certificate. Also on offer are apprenticeships (including the IOG Young Apprentice Scheme), level 2 and 3 horticulture sport turf qualifications – work-based or online – and an ongoing continuing professional development programme.
Level 1 courses are suitable for anyone involved in practical grounds maintenance and are ideal as an introductory course for those new to the profession or as a refresher course for those who want to keep abreast of the latest techniques.
Level 2 will be of particular benefit to those who have completed Level 1 or as a precursor for Level 3, which explains the management techniques and principles required by today’s experienced grounds staff to produce a safe and consistent surface. It will also build on technical knowledge in line with current processes and techniques. Level 3 will be of most benefit to those in senior positions and responsible for making assessments and decisions about the management of resources and the surface.

Via its Moodle virtual learning environment, the IOG offers online courses for its National Certificate in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance and Advanced National Certificate in Sports and Amenity Turf Maintenance.
    In addition, a variety of work-based accreditations are also available:
•    Key Skills (City & Guilds)
•    IOG National Practical Certficate
•    Level 2 Award, Certificate & Diploma in Work-based Horticulture
•    Level 3 Award, Certificate & Diploma in Work-based Horticulture.
There are also apprenticeships on offer for level 2 and 3 sport turf qualifications. These are again work-based or online and there is an ongoing continuing professional development programme.

The Level 2 National Certificate in Sports & Amenity Turf Maintenance, developed by the IOG in conjunction with NPTC and City & Guilds, is suitable for anyone who maintains turf. It comprises six compulsory units and eight optional, of which at least one must be completed.
The six compulsory units are: plant growth; principles of machinery; weeds, pests, diseases and disorders; health and safety; operation and maintenance of sports and amenity turf equipment; and the principles of sports and amenity turf.
The optional units are maintenance of amenity turf and maintenance of sports turf (choice of cricket, bowling greens, tennis courts, association football pitches, rugby pitches, golf or horseracing facilities). There are also three additional units for candidates of employers who wish these to be added to the main qualification:
• Maintenance and repair of non-turf sports surfaces
• Amenity horticulture in the turf industry, and
• Tractor operation and maintenance.
This level 2 course extends over a 12-month period; if a candidate studies for approximately 12 hours per week over the academic year, the course will take 36 weeks to complete.
Short training courses are also available from the IOG which has a structured and progressive four-tiered scheme available. Many of the courses are sport-specific, and the IOG also offers specialist training covering subjects like pest and disease management or machinery maintenance.
For example, the one-day courses embrace a foundation course which is a practical approach to the preparation and maintenance of a sports surface. The intermediate course looks into the theory behind the practice of preparing and maintaining a sports surface, and the advanced course covers the essential science of grounds maintenance. Two-day courses include the management of sports turf – from maintenance to management, and is designed to develop the core skills required by today’s professional grounds managers.
In addition, a certificate of achievement can be gained for cricket short courses by taking an online multiple choice questionnaire. This will be based on the content of the course and course work booklet, and this will be completed online via Moodle.
“So, as can be seen,” concludes Ian Lacy, “the IOG offers a wide range of easily-accessible, affordable and meaningful options that are open to everyone wishing to take up a career in groundscare and to those already in the industry who are looking to progress.”

for more information
Tel:  01908 312511

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