The skills agenda
This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 20
All too often I hear from Course Managers that "the club won't support staff training" or "due to a budget cut no staff are currently going to college".
I have to say that in answer to both of these comments often it is down to ignorance about the modern formal training system. If I start from the parameter that all staff have to have some skills to carry out the tasks they are employed to carry out, where they have been taught their current skills is irrelevant.
However employers should be looking to develop their staff to the maximum of their potential. This has to be good practice both for staff morale and a multi-skilled operative is worth ten cheap limited skilled staff.
Training does not mean you have to send staff off to college or that it has to be expensive. The majority of the greenkeeper skills training should be carried out at the golf course by the course manager with only specialist legislative skills requiring an external provider input.
The GTC has trained many Course Managers and several deputies to be aware of their formal role n training and assessment but so often I hear that trainees feel they are not receiving the level of support from their boss especially when they have been registered on a vocational qualification or apprenticeship.
As an employer please be aware of
the fact that for vocational qualifications to work your Course
Manager or in some cases the deputy must be formally involved with the
chosen Centre where the learner is registered. Any competent Course
Manager will be involved in his/her staff skills development and at the
same time keeping you informed of their own continual professional
Sadly I am hearing stories that learners/apprentices are increasingly frustrated by not receiving the level of support and training in the workplace and employers should of course be monitoring this by holding regular appraisals with all staff.
The GTC makes no apologies in raising this problem as it has invested heavily in Course Manager training to ensure skills development can be the norm at the golf course.
The land-based colleges who have traditionally "taught" greenkeepers have in the main now accepted that the skills should be coached by the Course Manager and have designed various methods of offering the knowledge and qualifications through different delivery modes.
The knowledge required to underpin the skills is also now available in hardcopy and CD format from the GTC and there are some excellent examples of where Course Managers use every spare moment - say inclement weather - to discuss the theory with the learners.
I have also heard that some Course Managers have a designated period during a week for staff education and training which again shows them in a very professional light. This option also reduces the time when learners have to be away from their place of work.
Our friends in the colleges do still have a major role to play, especially with the more academic courses and qualifications such as the Higher National Certificate or Foundation Degree and these awards can be studied through a variety of learning modes i.e. online, distance learning.
It is for employers to ensure the Course Managers manage not only the course but also the maintenance facility and greenstaff development.
As an employer please be aware that skills training is vital to the golf course and it is the Course Manager in association with you that can make your course the one that golfers want to play and the one that greenkeepers want to work at!