Skills for groundscare

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has been recognised as a National Accredited Apprenticeship Provider, an accolade that 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 open areas within and around hospital grounds.
With more than 10,000 grounds professionals benefiting during the past ten years alone from IOG training and education services (the institute has been offering training courses for 50 years), the IOG is already 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).

For all sectors
In addition to being attended by grounds professionals from across the sports spectrum, IOG training and education is 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 a local authority team or a specialist contractor providing a range of services for the NHS/Trusts, for example, 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 a greater amount of business opportunities while also providing clients with a very professional service.”  

From basic to advanced
He continues: “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 ground you work at.
“And 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.
“Today, we offer training and education that covers the complete gambit, starting with basic lawn care, and we are now also developing, for example, 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 our Moodle virtual learning platform, students can in a number of cases study at their own pace and in their own time.”
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.
Level 3 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.
“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.”
Visit the website for comprehensive details, including training and education options, timescales and costs, as well as help and advice on career paths.

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