I've been a groundsman for 10 years and have had several jobs "cutting grass". I feel I am ready for a supervisory post but I have been passed up for promotion and didn't get either of the two jobs I recently applied for. I don't want to go back to college but at the interviews I attended they said they were looking for someone with more qualifications. What can I do to improve my prospects? I have a National Certificate.

If you are not a memeber of the Institute of Groundsmanship (IoG) I suggest you join immediately. If you are, then why not look at becoming an IoG CPD (continuing professional development) member and also consider distance learning to gain more qualifications without going to college.

As a member of the IoG you are entitled to a number of benefits, products and services free of charge. For instance, you have free and unlimited access to the industry's most comprehensive online technical reference resource, plus you receive a copy of the institute's monthly magazine. You also have access to expert advice, by phone or email, from IoG consultants, while fellow members of your local branch can provide support via meetings and events.

The IoG organises seminars and demonstrations under its "IoG in Action" programme. For example, on 29 October there is an event at Brighton College on autumn and winter maintenance, including essential operations and managing the transition between summer and winter sports. There is a session on setting and monitoring the quality of your sporting surfaces with performance quality standards. Workshop demonstrations are provided by Dennis, Harrod UK and Rigby Taylor. Such events cost about £15 and it is essential to pre-book.

The IoG also runs training courses and as a member you are entitled to 50 per cent off the cost. These include one-day courses at foundation, intermediate and advanced levels and a two-day course to develop the core skills required by grounds managers. There are also courses for bowls, cricket and tennis, racecourse, winter pitch and synthetics maintenance and management. Again these are at foundation, intermediate and advanced levels, and are backed by the National Governing Bodies of Sports.

More specific subjects are also catered for, such as drainage, performance quality standards and management, plus a practical course on grass weeds, pests and diseases.

The IoG CPD is a scheme to demonstrate that members practise the highest professional grounds management standards by keeping their knowledge and skills current. There are six levels - the entry level is determined by your highest qualification - and you are required to complete 35 hours of CPD over a 12-month period. This can be achieved by further studies, short courses, in-company development, mentoring, private study and attending conferences, exhibitions and meetings.

Finally, have you thought about progressing to Level 3? The IoG has a virtual learning route for career progression from Level 2 to Level 3 in the Advanced National Certificate in sports and amenity turf management. The scheme follows the success of providing the Level 2 National Certificate via Moodle online virtual courses and offers flexible learning so you can study in your own time at a convenient place and pace.

For more information about IoG, visit www.iog.org.

- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.

- Email your questions to sally.drury@haymarket.com.

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