Inspiring a Generation
As the 2012 Olympic legacy reached its inaugural anniversary, the mission to 'inspire a generation' burns brightly. With the powerful images of Olympic legends handing the torch over to their young contemporaries still etched firmly in our minds, the requisite need to develop new talent and skills within any successful team or business is ably reinforced.
In seeking to 'inspire a generation', Myerscough College has continued to invest in the development of an extensive apprenticeship offer within the land based sector. This year has seen record apprentice numbers for the College with provision spread throughout the country, utilising their innovative work-based delivery model.
Recently inspected by Ofsted as being a College that is 'good with outstanding features' and recognised within Government performance tables as the top performing specialist land based College in the country, and in the top 5% of all Colleges nationally, Myerscough College's reputation for delivering excellence within the sports and amenity sector remains strong.
Peter Caney (Assistant Principal of Skills & Development) reflects on the success and benefits of the College's work-based training offer and the importance of nurturing talent through the provision of quality apprenticeships within the workplace, he explains.
"Apprenticeships provide a wonderful opportunity to develop new skills, inspire new ideas and support skills transfer and succession planning within any organisation. At Myerscough, we have been fortunate enough to witness these benefits over many years and gain immense satisfaction and pride in seeing careers flourish within the sector."
Delivered nationally, through an established team of skilled and vocationally experienced work-based tutors, the Myerscough College work-based delivery model brings tailored training and skills development into the workplace.
Nurturing Talent, Growing Apprenticeships
The Myerscough College work-based delivery model consists of tutor visits to the workplace for training and assessment, online learning and 'off the job' technical workshops tailored to meet individual learner and employer needs. This unique and tailored approach to training is not only very popular, with just over 1500 apprentices currently on programme, but it is highly successful as the colleges position in the national performance table suggests.
Peter Caney considers the success of the model to centre on a thorough induction process that clearly establishes the requirements of training, shared commitment (learner, employer and tutor) and the use of efficient delivery methods that maximise the effectiveness of learner outcome. Whilst all key elements, the binding ingredient is simple; passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff focused on creating a valued learning experience.
"Apprentices flourish within a supportive work environment," he explains, "where the opportunities for training and development are clearly identified and the role of the apprentice understood. We are very fortunate within the sports and amenity sector to have so many passionate and enthusiastic staff willing to pass on their skills and experience to a new generation of emerging professionals."
A recent beneficiary of such knowledge and skills transfer is former Myerscough apprentice and current IOG Young Groundsman of the Year, Luke Dodge. Inspired and supported by a team of dedicated and talented professionals at Manchester City FC, headed up by Lee Jackson, himself a former Myerscough apprentice, Luke recognises the impact of his apprenticeship on developing the foundation to his continued professional development, which now sees him focusing on completing his full BSc Honours Degree in Sportsturf Science and Management through online study with the College;
"The basic skills I picked up during my apprenticeship will stay with me on a daily basis throughout my career. Working within a skilled team and busy work environment, apprenticeships allow a way to gain the experience of working along with the tutorage of the College."
Former Myerscough Student and Head Groundsman at Burnley FC, Paul Bradshaw, is also passionate about bringing apprentices through into the sector, recognising the opportunities they provide as well as the positive impact and contribution to the workforce. Speaking about the opportunity created for current apprentice Chris Pickles to complete his apprenticeship, he commented;
"I am delighted to be able to offer Chris the chance to complete his Sportsturf Apprenticeship with Myerscough. The training they offer is second to none and Chris is the latest in a long list of successful apprentices from the College."
Paul is not the only employer to have enjoyed a long list of successful Myerscough apprentices, with the College's national work-based delivery model entering its seventeenth year of apprenticeship and workplace training. During this time, the College's work-based model has continually evolved and developed in line with sector requirements, learner and employer feedback, and technology. Peter Caney is confident that it is the continual evaluation and adaptation of the College training model that retains its uniqueness and broad sector appeal across all aspects of sportsturf and amenity horticulture on a national basis.
The introduction of electronic portfolios seven years ago has had a positive impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery model, enabling increased flexibility, access and interaction between learners, tutors and employers, whilst enhancing the authenticity of assessment evidence through the use of mobile technology.
The continuing professional development of Myerscough work-based tutors is integral to ensure the quality of work-based training continues to meet industry standards and keep pace with technological advances. Jonathan Knowles, Work-based Sportsturf Tutor and E-Learning Coordinator, offers an example of the recent advances in the teaching, learning and assessment techniques afforded through mobile technology and the benefits to the learner;
"Innovation in learning and teaching is intrinsic to Myerscough College and we have been promoting the use of technology in sportsturf for many years. It's true to say we are at the cutting edge of blended, work-based and distance learning, as acknowledged by many sector bodies and educational counterparts. The e-portfolio is firmly embedded into our teaching and our team are fully equipped with mobile technology. But we also encourage our learners to use their smart phones and tablets to full capability; we're encouraging them to lead us with their learning. This maximises their learning experience and enhances their own techie skills. An excellent example of recent innovation is the use of the iPhone microscope lens with 60x magnification. This is a fantastic cost-efficient resource, which brings grass, pest and disease identification into a whole new light, both fascinating and really useful for developing the latest generation of sports turf professionals."
It is not only the dedicated training team that continues to evolve and innovate their offer. This year, the College has assisted record numbers of businesses to recruit apprentices through a dedicated Employer Services Team. This free service to employers is part of the College's commitment to deliver excellence across all teaching and support services to ensure employers' experience of employing apprentices is as positive and beneficial as possible.
During the last academic year, over 200 employers have used the dedicated in-house recruitment service to source their new apprentices. Each vacancy draws, on average, around fifteen applications, adding competition and quality to the recruitment process. Vacancies are advertised free of charge in a variety of ways, including the College's thriving social media channels. The team can also offer support in preparing interviews and screening potential candidates.
Peter Griffiths, Grounds Manager at Leeds Metropolitan University, has recently benefitted from the support of the College's Employer Services team in recruiting Sophie Carter, a new horticultural apprentice, he said;
"We really like the work-based delivery model at Myerscough College and also the assisted recruitment process. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring a young person into our business and to hopefully inspire other young people to pursue a career in Horticulture. Sophie is progressing well and has already become an integral part of the team. I would recommend apprenticeships to other employers who are looking to recruit to new positions. In Sophie, we have an enthusiastic team player who is keen to learn and progress within our business. This can only add value to the service we provide."
The Coalition Government continues to view apprenticeships as a primary route to developing the future talent and skills required to compete in a global economy. In support of this vision, and in encouragement of new businesses employing apprentices, there are currently grants of up to £1500 available to employers who are looking to recruit an apprentice. During this year, the College has supported 112 employers to access grant payments, totalling £178,500, to aid the recruitment of apprentices into their businesses. The grant payments are available as an incentive for employers who have not previously experienced the benefits of employing apprentices, and eligibility for the grant should be checked by contacting the College's Employer Services team.
If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved in continuing or beginning to inspire a generation within your profession, or further your own professional development, please contact Myerscough College Employer Services on 01995 642255 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org.