Employment opportunities in the turf industry and the relationship between apprentice, employer and training organisation were addressed during the Sportsfield session at the 2017 Australian Turfgrass Conference in Queensland this week.
Winner of the 2014 STA Turf Graduate of the Year sponsored by Toro, Luke Cooney, told the conference delegates that an apprenticeship led to his eventual rise to award winner and opened doors to employment opportunities in the industry.
The national graduate award included the opportunity to study the industry in the United States.
The travel included visits to Michigan State University and Toro’s headquarters for the Sports Fields and Grounds Forum.
Mr Cooney visited a range of stadiums and turf facilities.
On his return he was approached by Gavin Darby, Etihad Stadium, to join the stadium’s team - which he accepted.
Mr Cooney is also completing a Diploma in Sports Turf Management at the Melbourne Polytechnic.
He said he recommended staff do the diploma as a valuable part of their training and employment.
Commitment, passion, self discipline and good manners are some of the main attributes Terry Partland looks for when selecting an apprentice.
Mr McPartland, St Andrews Anglican College, told the Australian Turfgrass Conference in Queensland that there were hard and fast rules when selecting an apprentice.
He looks for “hunger and commitment” and is not afraid of employing a mature age person or female.
“Keenness and paramount to success and age and sex should not discount anyone,” he said.
“As employers, to get the best results from an apprentice we must continually encourage and challenge that person to achieve the outcome we want.”
It was important that employers understood that 84 percent of an apprentice’s learning took place in the workplace, according to Canberra Institute of Technology’s Bruce Davies.
He told the conference that employers needed to provide apprentices with a wide range of experiences.
The three-way relationship needed communication to avoid miscommunication.
Flexibility was needed both ways - from the employer and the training provider.
Apprentices needed to be passionate for the industry and that would overcome other challenges, Mr Davies said.