Project aims to standardise landscape skills across EU

A project that hopes to standardise horticultural landscaping skills is being proposed by members of the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA).

Representatives from BALI are working with other ELCA members to set up the project over the coming months.

They hope to receive funding of up to EUR250,000 (£215,000) from the European Commission after submitting an application to the Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) on 13 August.

BALI national technical director Neil Huck told HW the plan was to analyse the levels of skill in different European countries. This could involve exploring qualifications at colleges in the UK and overseas.

"We might be going to a Polish college, for example, and asking what qualifications they produce," explained Huck. "We will then analyse that against a scoring system. The first stage is to look at what is out there. I have asked if we can prioritise pesticides and look at what different workers get in terms of training."

The results would be mapped against a scoring system called ECVET - the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training.

ELCA members from Belgium, France, Ireland, Finland and Canada are also on board, along with German representative Michael Henze from the country's Galabau organisation.

BALI chief executive Sandra Loton-Jones explained that the project would help members in winning work across Europe.

"It is about looking at parity in levels of skills, but also about highlighting issues," she said. "For example, a lot of the work that we have done through (land-based sector skills council) Lantra, such as National Occupational Standards, is ahead of other countries."

Otley College land and countryside studies section leader Steve Coghill said it was vital to have pan-European standards.

"Contract managers, company owners and bodies like the Health & Safety Executive need to know about the skill set that workers from other countries bring with them," he said. "Having a set of reconciled standards across Europe means that students, once they qualify, can move more effectively for work in different countries."

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