The start of a new academic year is always an exciting time at college. It's always great to see more young people enter into the world of landbased and sports education, and also to take the small first steps onto their new careers through our workbased provision.
Seeing learners progress both personally and professionally is at the heart of everything we do and a key value by which we all operate. In this issue, we look at some specific examples of success within career development and industry awards.
The term "grow your own" is one often applied to apprenticeships. The ethos and idea of taking young people, often straight from school or college, learning a trade with practical and knowledge based training running alongside has been around for decades. Being in the middle of a true three way relationship where the college/training provider, employer and apprentice all work together with shared visions and ideals can be an amazing experience for young people. Where training and development is at the core of a business there can be huge dividends, including producing high calibre workers who thrive and progress often at a fast pace within the organisation.
Employer in Focus - Bolton Wanderers Football Club (BWFC)
Bolton Wanderers Football Club is a prime example of an employer with systems of training, progression and succession planning fully embedded into their working practices.
Myerscough College has a longstanding relationship, going back decades working closely with the team to deliver a wide range of training and apprenticeships across the workforce.
This year has been a busy one, with the Club working with our Employer Services Team to recruit two new Sportsturf Apprentices, and also to begin the training of another member of staff working towards an apprenticeship in Landbased Mechanisation, who will be assisting with the maintenance of the machinery on site. More impressive is the fact that current Head Groundsman, Chris Simm along with the three Site Foremen Niall, Nathan, Nick have all trained in Sportsturf as apprentices or full time students at Myerscough College.
Head Groundsman, Chris, who oversees a team of around 20 staff across three sites shares his thoughts on training, development and apprenticeships and how they are key to progression within the industry, saying: "Apprenticeships, training and staff development have always been high on the agenda at Bolton Wanderers. It's key that at all times we can deliver a quality playing surface at all our sites, and that we stay at the forefront of new developments within the industry. Recruiting apprentices and young people provide us with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, and seeing them progress and develop at the Club is of mutual benefit to all parties."
"Having been an apprentice myself at the start of my career, I really hope spells out firmly to our new recruits that we are committed to seeing them develop and progress here at Bolton Wanderers and it's fantastic to think that we can inspire the next generation of Sportsturf professionals who are taking their first steps into the industry."
We asked the latest recruits to share their thoughts on apprenticeships and what made them take this career choice.
Tom Chamley, aged 17 from Chorley, started in May 2015 having previously studied Sports Development at College said; "I originally saw the advert on the Myerscough website and thought why not. I have always had an interest in Horticulture and really enjoy working outdoors. I never realised at the start just how much technical knowledge is required and I am learning new things every day. We get regular visits from Chris, our tutor, who supports us with both knowledge and practical tasks. So far I am really enjoying the programme."
Another new recruit is Jack Young, aged 16 from Bolton, who has joined the apprenticeship scheme straight from high school. Jack said; "This is my first proper job. I love working outdoors and in a mainly practical way. I have had some experience working with tools and in general gardening and when I saw the job I knew it was for me. It's great to think I play a key part in such a big organisation. It's fantastic and I am looking forward to learning more and developing in the future. To think that my manager started out as an apprentices just like me makes me 100% sure I made the right choice."
Myerscough College Workbased Tutor, Chris Tiplady has trained around 20 staff at Bolton Wanderers over the last decade and shares his thoughts on the new recruits and how apprenticeships can be a great start to a career, saying; "It's always fantastic to see apprentices develop, but to see one employer with former learners achieving management and supervisory level roles is exceptional, and proof to young people that they really are a good way to enter the Sportsturf industry. It's always daunting for young people at the start but with hard work, dedication and support from their peers our model of training can see young people develop and flourish within an organisation. Bolton Wanderers really are a shining example of how an apprentice can progress, if the opportunities are available. I am looking forward to seeing Tom and Jack progress at the Club. Having managers and workplace mentors who have been through the same process is a great position to be in."
Another area of training at Myerscough College is Landbased Engineering - Grounds Care and the delivery of apprenticeships within football and golf clubs in particular is an expanding area. Bolton Wanderers are the first football club to develop someone in this area with Myerscough College and Zac, aged 19 from Blackburn, has just started the level 2 programme. The delivery model is very different with apprentices and learners attending on block release for a total of 12 weeks over the 2 year programme.
Zac who has previously achieved his Sportsturf Level 2 said; "I have always had a passion for machinery and now to be able to take my operational knowledge and combine it with the inner working of machinery is something I am really looking forward to. In the future, I hope to be able to take on more responsibility and eventually be able to maintain and service the full range of grounds care equipment at the club. Being able to keep all the machines in tip top condition can only enhance the work of the team."
It's clear the pitches and grounds at BWFC are in safe hands for the future.
The college's workbased team continues to work tirelessly across a number of sectors, with Greenkeeping being by far the largest scheme with employers and apprentices spanning the length and breadth of the country. September is a time when the team at BIGGA put the best students in the country through their paces in the Student Greenkeeper of the Year competition.
This year was exceptional as three Myerscough College workbased students and apprentices made it through to the finals. The College is proud to announce that Advanced Apprentice, Steve Thorne, has been crowned the Bigga Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year for 2015.
Steve currently works as Deputy Course Manager at Rushmore Golf Club in Salisbury and competed in the final against five other student greenkeepers. He wins the fabulous first prize of a Toro Scholarship. This life-changing, all expenses paid eight-week trip includes a residential turf management study course at the University of Massachusetts, USA early next year. There will also be visits to the Toro Company HQ and the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, California.
Steve said: "It's such an honour to win. I know I was up against some tough competition. It's been a great experience from start to finish, and I feel I've also made some friends. All six of us have got on really well. America is going to be amazing, I'm looking forward to the turf management course, the GIS and seeing the scale of the Toro HQ."
"I'd like to thank Rushmore Course Manager Jaime Acton, the General Manager Declan Healy and the whole team for their fantastic support. Also, thank you to Nick Lush, my Tutor at Myerscough College, my wife Rachael for her constant encouragement, the sponsors Toro and everyone at BIGGA House for making me so welcome."
Another Myerscough College Apprentice, Sam Sweetzer, finished as one of two runners up and will be invited to attend the superb Continue to Learn programme at BTME 2016. Sam works as an Assistant Greenkeeper at West Hill Golf Club in Surrey.
Lee Price, Employer Services Manager at Myerscough College said: "This is fantastic news for the College and we are absolutely delighted for both Stephen and Sam who have been rewarded for the hard work and effort they have put into their studies and employment. They follow in the footsteps of other finalists who have gone onto achieve great things in the industry."
The final followed the same format as last year's updated competition. It began with an animated discussion group chaired by BIGGA Chairman Les Howkins MG, Course Manager at The Richmond Golf Club, where the finalists debated various agronomic and industry issues.
Day two of one of the industry's most popular and enduring competitions began with the final six completing a 30-minute multiple choice quiz on a huge variety of subjects ranging from health and safety to CPD.
They were then given an essay question to complete, focusing on their career aspirations, then interviewed individually by an industry panel.
BIGGA's Head of Member Development, Sami Strutt, BIGGA Past Chairman and Course Manager at Chippenham Golf Club, Chris Sealey, Lely's UK Sales Manager, Jeff Anguige, and Golf Course Consultant, Bruce Jamieson, all questioned the six before making their decision on who would succeed last year's winner, Kevin O'Neill.
BIGGA's Head of Member Learning, Stuart Green, was part of the initial panel who held the regional interviews to whittle down dozens of nominees to the final six. He said: "Toro Student Greenkeeper of the Year is a wonderful competition and once again it was a pleasure to meet six enthusiastic, engaged and passionate Greenkeepers. It was a very tough decision coming up with the final six, let alone deciding who would win overall! Congratulations to Steve and all the finalists, it's a terrific achievement just to reach this stage of the competition. Steve will have a superb experience in the States, which is a fabulous personal and professional development opportunity. Everyone at BIGGA would also like to thank the sponsors Toro for their continuing support of the contest, which is now in its 27th year."
The College will also as usual have a presence at SALTEX, this year being held for the first time at the NEC, Birmingham from 4th to 5th of November. We will be in the education zone on stand C199 talking all things education and training.
Myerscough College deliver a wide range of workbased training, apprenticeships and degrees across the full spectrum of Sportsturf and Horticultural disciplines. Whether you are a learner or employer, for more information please contact Employer Services on 01995 642255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org