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Need a bigger training budget?

This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 24

As we all know, budgets are not getting any larger and the drive to reduce costs for a more efficient running operation is the demand at most golf clubs. In this highly competitive arena one of the early casualties has tended to be the training budget, says Andrew Wight from Oaklands College.

HOWEVER, WHAT IF I said much of the training for your staff could be free?

How is this so you ask? Well the government has set up a number of training initiatives for employers over the last few years and many of these are open for use by greenkeepers and their employers. I hope to give an overview of these schemes and their benefits below.

16 to 18 Training: Employees in this age group are entitled to free training by law and therefore are well suited to an NVQ Level 2 route as run by their local GTC approved provider.

Train to Gain: This is an initiative set up by the Government for England; its intention is to place training back into the hands of the employers. The scheme is set up to give workers who do not hold a full Level 2 qualification the chance to train for one. The training is free of charge to the employer and can consist of two routes:

Option 1 gives the employer the option of 20 hours of training from the provider as well as assessment.

Option 2 gives the employer assessment visits only.

What are the advantages to the employer of Train to Gain? The training is free of charge for those over 19 and there is no requirement to attend college etc. This makes the scheme suitable for greenkeepers who have been doing the job for a while and have all the skills and knowledge required but have no formal qualification. The greenkeeper can start on an NVQ 2 and have their skills recognised with assessments being carried out in the workplace. The system is made even easier if there is a qualified assessor at the club.

The GTC has a recognised network of qualified assessors within the industry and for those golf clubs looking at training their staff, but who have not got a qualified assessor at the workplace, please contact Fiona at the GTC for further information on the assessor programme Tel 01347 838640 or e-mail

Who qualifies for Train to Gain?

The training is designed to allow workers to gain their first Level 2 qualification, therefore anybody with a Level 2 qualification (including 5 GCSEs at grade C or above) does not qualify for Train to Gain funding. There is no upper age limit for Train to Gain but employees must be 19 or over. Note it is possible for workers who meet the criteria for Train to Gain to jump straight to a Level 3 qualifi cation these people are known as "Level 3 jumpers".

Apprenticeship schemes*

The body that develops and reviews these frameworks is Lantra, which is the Sector Skills Council for the landbased sector including the Greenkeeping industry. The Apprenticeship schemes are the Government's preferred route for training, especially for youngsters.

There are two types of apprenticeship:

1 The standard apprenticeship includes:

  • NVQ Level 2 Sportsturf
  • 4 Key Skills (Communication, Application of Number, Working with Others and Improving own Learning and Performance all at level 1).
  • First aid certificate (1 day)
  • 2 Legislative or competence certificates e.g. PA1, 2 or 6 spraying certificates etc.

2 The advanced apprenticeship includes:

  • NVQ Level 3 Sportsturf
  • 5 Key Skills (Communication at L2, Application of Number at L2, Working with Others at L2, Improving own Learning and Performance at L2 and Information Technology at L1)
  • First aid certifi cate (4 day)
  • 3 units of the Advanced National Certificate (Amenity Horticulture - Sportsturf option).

Hopefully, you will now have identified some areas of training that are available for your staff. The next step is to contact your local GTC approved provider for help and advice.

David Golding, GTC's Education Director: said: "As part of the GTC's work we are aware of local and regional variations in terms of funding support for employers to access through our Approved Training Provider network and it is often diffi cult for us to keep up with the Government's funding agencies' priorities.

"The GTC can direct employers to their local Approved Training Provider but, with some providers securing national contracts, it is important that you check with the GTC just where the various training initiatives are operating and how contact can be made," he added.

* Note there may be small fees such as registration, materials cost etc.

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