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Are you in control of staff training and assessment?

This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 26

David Golding, the GTC's Education Director, reminds Course Managers and Head Greenkeepers that their role as work-based trainers and assessors is a 12-month position and not just seasonal...

It's now some 13 years since "we" the GTC embarked on promoting formal skills and focused qualifications to employers and greenkeepers.

Since their introduction Vocational Qualifications have truly become recognised internationally.

A system supposedly driven by industry for industry has not been without its difficulties and critics, however there is no doubt that the opportunities for employers to develop staff and for greenkeepers to take up formal qualifications for the job they carry out day by day has never been better.

National Standards developed by the industry are at three levels; craft, supervisory and management are now better known as National/Scottish Vocational Qualifications at Levels 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

As a quick refresher, to most readers these standards are regularly reviewed and both employers and greenkeepers are involved. Widespread consultation occurs before accreditation by the Government Approved Bodies.

As these qualifications have national accreditation they are offered through centres, often Further Education colleges in the land-based sector, and attract funding support through various schemes including a Sports Turf route apprenticeship framework.

So if "we" as a specialist sector have a major input to the National Standards and we have approved centres offering qualifications, how can we improve a system that still seems to leave work-based training open to criticism?

A major part of my job is to work with the Awarding Bodies like the Scottish Qualifications Authority and City & Guilds/NPTC and then the centres who offer N/SVQ's in Sports Turf.

The GTC continues to promote assessor training to Course Managers/Head Greenkeepers and in some cases Deputies as it's without doubt they who are best placed and qualified to train, motivate AND assess the trainees registered on a work-based qualification.

Why is it that many Centre staff contact me stating that on-the-job assessors are not seeing it as their role to assess staff or only look to assess when their workload eases.

The assessor may think it's a time consuming task and always involves standing with a clipboard observing the trainee?

This is not the case as the introduction of vocational qualifications to the sector was a massive change in policy from the pass/fail examinations. We must still accept our responsibilities to ensure the system works in accordance with both the National Standards for Sports Turf AND Assessing.

I often hear that centres are using their own assessors, bypassing the A1-D32/33 qualified assessors and this is not best use of resources by the centre or indeed in the best interest of the learner.

An excellent example of how and when the system worked well is the BIGGA-TORO Student of the Year. This is due to the feedback I receive annually, that when a student has received support from his/her boss on the job they have progressed at a greater pace than those who have had to rely totally on the provider/centre staff to support them.

The culture of on-the-job training is not new to greenkeeping but the training and assessment planning between the centre, the learner and the assessor at the golf course still needs to be explained and agreed at induction. In other words who is doing what?

The training aspects are best delivered at the golf course, the knowledge can be through part-time release to a centre or again can be gained on-the-job by using the nationally agreed learning materials or even on-line, leaving just the assessment.

If you achieved the old D32/33 assessor award you don't have to gain the new A1 qualification. All your chosen centre would need to do through the Internal Verifier is to ensure you are up-to-date with the assessor standards and centre documentation, so don't worry if you have not assessed a candidate for some time!

I'm assured by centres that whilst they have their own assessors they rely heavily on Course Managers and Head Greenkeepers to actively be part of the assessment process, however, please play your part to improve the system and if you are not yet an assessor and you have staff registered on a N/SVQ we can train you.

Golf club employers who have a qualified assessor on site have the added advantage of not requiring to release trainee greenkeepers for days of assessment away from work.

In summary: Course Managers and Head Greenkeepers train and assess every day of their working lives and staff development benefits everybody so let us continue to develop on the job assessment by making sure it's a naturally occurring activity all the year round.

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