CPD - No let-up on learning

Improving skills benefits both staff and employers, stresses Gavin McEwan.

Training providers offers upskilling programmes at colleges, universities or even online - image: iStockphoto
Training providers offers upskilling programmes at colleges, universities or even online - image: iStockphoto

In every industry the need for staff to continually hone their skills is well understood, and horticulture is no different. Employers gain from having more capable and motivated staff, who in turn benefit from increased responsibility and career progression.

Greenkeeping is one industry where training-based career development has become formalised, thanks in part to its professional body, the British and International Golf Greenkeepers' Association (BIGGA).

According to BIGGA's learning and development administrator Rachael Duffy: "An apprenticeship will lead to a position of assistant greenkeeper, then with a Level 2 qualification you can go to first assistant greenkeeper, then greenkeeper or deputy course manager at level 3, and so on to degree-level qualifications that can lead to positions such as director of golf."

A similar training structure is operated by the Institute of Groundsmanship, which delivers work-based training online or at its centres of excellence around the country.

Continuous professional development is pretty much compulsory in landscape architecture, says Landscape Institute director of education Sue Beard: "We stipulate a minimum of 20 hours a year, but we encourage members to review needs regularly."

Suitable training providers range from colleges and universities, to the Construction Industry Council and private trainers, she says, adding that a proportion of the institute's members are monitored each year to ensure this is complied with.

Fiona Dennis, historic and botanic garden bursary scheme co-ordinator, presents a different picture in professional gardening, where funding is tighter. "There are opportunities to work at other gardens in the form of an exchange, funded by the Finnis Scott Award through the Professional Gardeners' Guild, or other bursaries."

But she adds: "The biggest challenge is to get the support of your employer. A lot of gardeners would like further skills, but employers may be reluctant if there's already someone on the staff with that skill." However she points out that recent changes to the RHS suite of awards "are now a better way of measuring the skills that gardeners have".

In arboriculture, UK branches of the European Arboricultural Council and the International Society of Arboriculture offer accreditation to individual contractors. For companies, the Arboricultural Association offers its approved contractor scheme demonstrating competence in tasks within a culture of health and safety and customer care, and registered consultant scheme for everything from domestic-scale work to planning and legal work. Experienced practitioners can also gain chartered status through the Institute of Chartered Foresters.



Foundation degree: EeWr IrGr SeHd


Foundation degree: EmMo NeEd NeNh NwMy SePl SeSp WmMm

Degree (BSc): EmMo NwMy WmMm

MSc/PGDip in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry: NwMy


RHS Master of Horticulture (MHort) SeHd?


PFoundation degree in Horticulture Leadership and Innovation: NwRh

MSc Horticulture (Crop Production): EeWr

MSc Postharvest Technology: EeWr


Foundation degree in Historic Garden Restoration and Management: NwRh

MA in Historic Designed Landscapes: EeWr


Foundation degree in Retail Horticulture Management: SwKm


HNC/HND in Golf Course Management: ScEl

Foundation degree in Sportsturf Management: IrGr

BSc Hons in Sports Management (Golf): SwBu WmWh

MSc in Sports Surface Technology: EeCu


Kevin Wheatley, who co-runs TJ Landscapes from a garden centre in Doncaster, is a big advocate of work-based training.

"Landscaping is notorious for cowboys in the trade," he says. "Having qualified staff helps us distance ourselves from that image." He also points to improved staff morale, greater responsibility and even lower insurance premiums as the benefits to this approach.

"We get the right calibre of people and ensure they stay safe and healthy. I have seen people's whole posture change with the confidence training brings."

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