Greenkeeper apprenticeships - An employee’s journey

Andy Wightin Training & Education

In this second article, Andy Wight gives an overview from the apprentice's point of view when undertaking a Golf Greenkeeper Apprenticeship. It will also be of real value to any employers who wish to understand the actual content of the apprenticeship and the apprentice's journey through it.

If you read my last article (in Issue 78), we looked at the Golf Greenkeeper Apprenticeship from the employer's point of view. In this article, I am going to look at it from the apprentice's point of view i.e. I am addressing this to apprentices and answering the most common questions they ask me.

How long will my apprenticeship be?

The expected duration is twenty-four months. You can finish earlier but you cannot complete the course in less than twelve months (372 days) due to funding rules. Having said that, if you have a learning disability, you may get more than twenty-four months allocated to your apprenticeship.

What off-the-job training am I entitled to?

There is a mandatory requirement for your employer to give you 20% of the working week to study and/or take part in workplace training. This time must be paid at your normal hourly rate. You must keep a record of your off-the-job training.

What grades do I need in maths and English?

You will need to achieve at least level 1 in maths and English. If you have a GCSE D to E or Grade 2 to 3*, you do not have to sit level 1 Functional skill exams, but you do have to sit the Level 2 Functional skill exams. (You don't have to have passed these but you must sit them before you can complete your apprenticeship). If you have a GCSE A to C or grade 4 to 9 in maths/English*, you will not need to sit additional maths/English Functional skill exams.

In addition to GCSEs, you may have other relaxations for maths and English, such as A Levels, Key skills etc. You should show any maths and English certificates you have to your provider.*

What are the main areas in the apprenticeship?

There are three key areas in your apprenticeship as set out below:

1. Behaviours: You must demonstrate you have the required behaviours (e.g. good timekeeping etc.). This will be covered by completion of a personal statement, evidence from the employer and provider and a portfolio that will provide 20% of the mark for your final grade

2. Knowledge: You must demonstrate that the knowledge required by the industry has been achieved. This will be covered by completion of an exam that will provide 30% of the mark for your final grade

3. Skills: You must demonstrate that the skills required have been achieved. This will be covered by completion of an End Point Assessment (EPA) that will cover the skills and provide 50% of the mark for your final grade. The EPA will involve completing a number of practical tasks selected by the Independent End Point Assessor as well as a course walk on one hole on your golf course

How am I graded?

Unlike previous apprenticeships the new system allows for grading. You can be graded as:

  • Fail
  • Pass
  • Merit
  • Distinction

To get a good grade, you will have to work hard to ensure you have all the practical skills and knowledge required to pass the exam and practical tests at the end of your apprenticeship. Note; you get only one retake on any part of the EPA, if you fail this, in effect, you cannot complete your apprenticeship.

How does the whole system work?

In a "nutshell" your journey on the apprenticeship will be as follows:

  1. Start the course
  2. Period of study and training: you gain all of the knowledge and skills required in the Standard.
    If required, you must also pass any maths and English qualifications needed.
  3. Gateway meeting: towards the end of you apprenticeship, a formal meeting between employer and provider will take place to see if you are ready for the EPA
  4. EPA is booked. You continue to practise and prepare for the EPA
  5. You take an exam: exam is taken and, assuming a pass, you prepare a personal statement to go to the EPA assessor
  6. EPA takes place: You are visited by an EPA assessor at your place of work for:
    a. Course walk of one hole
    b. Review of personal statement to assess behaviours etc.
    c. A number of practical assessments
  7. EPA assessor grades you: grade is given (this will not be given on the day) and if you reach the pass level your apprenticeship is completed
  8. Qualified status: You are given Apprenticeship Certificate and are recognised by BIGGA as a qualified greenkeeper

Note: if you fail any part of the EPA, you get one retake only. If you fail this, you cannot have any additional retakes. So, the message is; study carefully and make sure you can do every task required in the Golf Greenkeeper standard.

What sort of things must I be able to do by the end of my apprenticeship?

You must demonstrate you have the following behaviours:

  1. A strong work ethic, including pride in work, attention to detail, integrity and time management
  2. A flexible positive attitude to work
  3. An ability to work as a lone worker and as a member of a team
  4. A willingness to learn and contribute to your own continuing professional development
  5. A safety mindset for self, colleagues and golfers
  6. Clear and effective communication skills and can use a variety of communication methods to give/receive information accurately and in a timely and positive manner
  7. An ability to problem solve and make effective decisions

This list is a good place for any apprentice or potential apprentice to use as a training plan with the employer.

You must also have the required knowledge about and the ability to:
  • Maintain and develop personal performance
  • Establish and maintain working relationships with others
  • Monitor and maintain workplace health and safety
  • Maintain good standards of H&S for self and others
  • Use non-powered and handheld powered tools and equipment
  • Use pedestrian equipment
  • Use ride-on equipment
  • Carry out routine maintenance to equipment and machinery
  • Prepare a tractor with attachments for operation
  • Use a tractor and its attachments
  • Switch or brush turf
  • Mow rough
  • Mow semi-rough
  • Mow fairways
  • Mow surrounds and approaches
  • Mow tees
  • Mow greens
  • Scarify, verti-cut or groom turf
  • Aerate turf
  • Apply topdressing
  • Apply fertiliser/turf conditioner
  • Irrigate playing surfaces
  • Roll rough
  • Maintain drainage systems
  • Roll turf
  • Renovate and repair turf
  • Repair divot holes
  • Deal with threats to the health of turf
  • Identify fifteen turf weeds and one type of moss
  • Identify five pests of turf
  • Identify five diseases of turf
  • Identify five disorders of turf
  • Prepare ground for establishing plants
  • Establish plants on a golf course
  • Identify five grasses on the golf course
  • Identify thirty plants on the golf course
  • Carry out course preparation (mark out GUR/OOB/DZ etc.)
  • Move tee markers
  • Change the hole on a golf green
  • Maintain bunkers
  • Carry out a course walk (walk from tee to green and explain heights of cut used, identify three plants and at least two grasses on that hole etc.)

I hope I have given you an insight into the Golf Greenkeeper Apprenticeship and I wish you the best of luck with your apprenticeship.

* You must provide evidence that you already hold the required maths and English qualification/s i.e. provide a copy of the certificate/s. To say you have the required grades or a copy of the provisional results slip for you exam results, is not accepted as evidence.

You can view the first article, Greenkeeper apprenticeships - An employer's walk through, here