Only 28% of the UK's working age population have skills at apprenticeship, technical or craft level - lower than most other European countries.
"The continued development of work-based training - along with current funding streams - is playing a vital role in closing this gap," said quality assurance manager at Myerscough College, Paul McGrail.
"In many ways the sports-turf sector has been ahead of the field. In the 90s the GTC's vision promoted the idea of NVQs delivered in the workplace using on-site assessors."
In response to the needs of industry, many of the GTC providers have developed more work-based delivery programmes providing quality training enabling learners to gain a wide range of skills.
"At Myerscough, paramount to delivering work-based training is acknowledging the individual needs of the learner," Paul said.
"From the beginning, an individual learning programme is agreed which establishes the level of help and support required but also sets the ground rules for the key people involved and their learning roles."
Pivotal to the success of such programmes is the working relationship between the work-place supervisor and the college tutor. The work-place supervisor's involvement, like that of the college tutor's, can be wide and varied depending on the learner, the environment and level of employer support.
The majority of work-place supervisors provide on-the-job in-depth training as part of their everyday work role although some take this a step further.
The role of the college tutor may involve providing assessments for specific tasks, delivering group training workshops, liaising with learners by using virtual learning platforms and by conducting one-to-one tuition.
"This partnership approach to work-based training is possible due to a national network of college tutors who are fully resourced and supported," Paul added.
"The ongoing success of work-based training at Myerscough College can be attributed to meeting both the training needs of learners, employers and managers, and involving them in the training process."
An example of this is Rotherham Golf Club in Yorkshire. Dave Chappell is the course manager/assessor and has worked with Myerscough Training since 2003. Dave said: "There is no classroom as such, but the lads have not lost out on theory. In fact they've been able to gain loads of knowledge from both the tutor and myself during one-to-one sessions."
Robert Sandilands, a first assistant greenkeeper at Kenwick Park Golf Club in Lincolnshire, is one of the first nationally to have completed the advanced apprenticeship framework including technical certificate, which were all delivered on-site.
Rob said: "Work-based means getting paid while you train with the convenience of tutorials arranged around my course manager's work plans and with the added benefit of gathering my NVQ evidence from work on the course as it happens."
David Golding, GTC's Education Director adds an overview of the current situation."There has been a tremendous uptake on the 100% work-based training courses especially the N/SVQs and employers are reporting how the programmes suit them.
"Many greenkeeping students prefer the on-the-job option to learn at the same time as gaining new skills with the support of their Course Manager/Head Greenkeeper.
"As Paul McGrail explains it does take a commitment from the senior greenkeeping staff to support the learners and more work-based assessors are taking the lead role in the programmes.
"However, there are still employers who opt for the more traditional route of part-time college/training provider attendance for their staff and this is also available through the network of GTC training providers.
"The decision whether to use the more traditional part-time off-the-job provider route or the 100% work-based system does need careful consideration and the GTC can help by discussing individual employer and learner's needs."
For details of Myerscough's programmes and all GTC approved providers visit www.the-gtc.co.uk/providers/index.php3