Education and the Job
I started work as an apprentice Groundsman at Manchester City over 11 years ago. It seems that never has it been more important to have qualifications for this profession than it is now. When I trawl the job advertisements every vacant position requires NVQ's or HND'S, PA spraying certification and other achievements.
When I first started work, the Ground staff were expected to do all sorts or daft and mundane jobs which invariably meant that time was divided, and the work on the pitches wasn't always the priority.
Over the last four years Manchester City Football Club have invested a lot of time, effort and money into developing training and resources for every aspect of our job. This includes capital investment in new machinery (high investment here has meant more quality work can be achieved within the existing staffing framework).
Our new training facility, a few miles from Maine Road, at Carrington has recently won an award from The British Association Of Landscape Industries (BALI) which has been a tremendous boost for all of us.
The club have also put an emphasis on staff development. For the last four years I have been studying for my NVQ's through Myerscough College near Preston. I have achieved this through work based learning modules, with my tutor, Phil Lomas, who comes to visit me every 3-5 weeks, setting me new projects and assessing and marking previous set work.
So far I have achieved both my NVQ's level 2 and 3 and am close now to completing level 4, as well as this I have been able to gain my PA 1,2 and 6 spraying certificates.
These courses, whilst being extremely demanding at times, are certainly well worth doing to build up a decent skill base. I undertook these courses having already started work in the industry and there is so much information and new advances that one continues to learn about new products and different approaches to solving problems.
Qualifications are not the be all and end all of life but with the right blend of both experience and recognised accreditation a Groundsman/Green keeper should be able to perform to a high standard.
It is useful and important for clubs to know that employees, under the age of 24 who enter into further education to gain additional qualifications through a college can have the courses subsidised by the Government. This is part of the Governments commitment to help educate the younger members in today's work force, It would be a shame that those who want to improve their knowledge base are put off, because of cost, and are unaware that there are subsidies available. I would suggest that anybody who is interested in furthering their education, contact their local college or this website for more details.
We want to be more professional as an Industry, so the more qualified we become, the better the chance of improving our prospects of conditions and pay.