Note for employers
This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 21
The GTC believes that the first priority of any golf club is to ensure the "customer" is happy with the facilities on offer.
While many factors contribute to keeping the customer satisfied, staff have a huge contribution to make and, more importantly, competent staff.
Involving all the staff in the business of customer satisfaction is crucial and often this depends on communication from the owner or employer through the ranks of the staff.
But the GTC has clear evidence that employers who have regular contact with the "grass roots" staff really do benefit from better productivity once staff feel there is a team spirit within the facility.
Hands up all those golf club employers and golf club managers who truly know what skills all their staff have and regularly manage performance and development of staff.
Full credit to those employers who support their course manager's recommendations for greenstaff development but there are many clubs where training is either not undertaken due to cost or that the staff are happy with their current level of skill.
Updating in areas such as health and safety is a legislative requirement, but I don't want readers to feel threatened by this aspect of staff training.
The GTC has seen a tremendous investment in "on the job" training by golf clubs supporting their senior greenkeeping staff to be trained as trainer/assessors, which in turn raises the awareness of the formal vocational qualifications system. This area of senior staff development is a short cut to a successful business as all the rest of the staff have a person in a senior position directly involved in the day to day staff training, assessment and development.
Staff appraisals become an ongoing process rather than an annual activity and performance monitoring by the employer using national standards becomes the norm.
Please be aware of the modern course manager who can now often be seen training staff not just in the practical aspects of the job but also the "when and why" aspects.
The standard learning materials used by the training providers are now available for assessors and learners to buy and, as the skills of course managers are being widened through their development as on the job mentors, it is important they can both access the learning materials and that employers encourage this relatively new concept of delivering the knowledge at the workplace.
This can be carried out during inclement weather, in the winter months or at a dedicated time - say one afternoon a week.
Colleges are now accepting that the course manager, or in some cases the deputy, has a vital role in the vocational system and it is the GTC's role to support both sides of the qualification delivery system.
Some work-based assessors complain they do not have time to train or assess and while we fully accept the difficult task they can often have due to the demand for improved standards and climate change we still believe time has to be made to train and assess staff.
The assessment process, while being critical to the whole credibility of vocational qualifications, need not be time consuming!
Assessors do not have to stand by the learners with clipboards - they can often be working alongside the candidate.
The key to a successful assessment is for the assessor and the candidate to be aware of the standards required to enable a "signing off" decision to be made.
Both the training and assessment must be geared to the national standards and, once a competent assessor gets to grips with just how their role can be part of their normal daily job, everybody suddenly benefits.
The candidate is better motivated because they know their learning plan is being monitored and managed on a daily basis and the course manager and employer are increasing the competencies of their staff.
Centres (training providers) are available to support the employer, course manager (assessor) and of course the learner who is registered with them.
If you do not have an assessor on site the whole assessment process is brought into question.
Some providers send staff out to golf courses to assess candidates who they have never worked alongside and at best they only see a snap shot of their skill. It must be better for the candidate when their supervisor is involved in the training and assessment process.
Please do not settle for "second-class" assessments; encourage your senior greenkeeping staff to become more formally involved in the training and assessment of staff.
There are training courses available through the GTC to help them achieve the necessary qualifications, which again only formalise what many of them have been doing for years - that is training and assessing staff!
You as the employer can also benefit by working closely with your chosen centre as often colleges and the private training providers complain that the learner's progress is being delayed by the reluctance of the course manager to be involved in staff training and assessment.
Thankfully, this is becoming less of a problem as more and more course managers and employers understand the whole concept of work-
based qualifications. David F Golding
GTC Education Director.