Associations and Training Bodies

Is there room within the industry for another landscaping association/training organisation based heavily on the hard landscaping/construction side of the industry? Yes I know we have the APL, APLD and BALI etc but they don't really provide any training and peoples opinions on these greatly differ too. And I also understand that Marshalls Reg and bradstone assured etc do have there place but again they don't really focus on any kind of training.

The reason I ask is because a lot of the courses around the area we cover leave a lot to be desired when it comes to covering the construction side of the industry. 

What do you guys think? 

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  • PRO

    A good question Matt.

    I discussed this with a number of people way back when I started on the LJ journey.

    One of my hopes was that when Marshalls started their sponsorship of LJN that we could develop an independent landscape academy together.

    It would have been a tremendous challenge but a worthy one. A lot of energy and finance needed though.

    But in answer to your question, yes, I feel there's room for a training organisation (but not another association).

  • PRO

    I think i agree with you there Phil.

    In my opinion a well managed well respected industry known training academy/organisation would actually be more valuable to the industry rather than another association. 

    maybe an independent Academy that Liaised with existing associations on what they see as correct industry practises within the landscape construction based branch of the industry.  That way a broader range of skills can be managed and taught and eventually an industry recognised qualification could be awarded. 

    I know everybody has there way of for instance laying slabs etc and maybe that can be taken into account and somehow be put across in that unit of training. 

    Its something I have been thinking about for a while, And Although our apprentices and previous apprentice are on relevant ish college course if you can call it that I also operate an In house training system that seems to be working to a greater effectiveness than the college's effort. 

    I dunno just a thought thats all I might pursue the idea further. 

  • PRO

    I think the industry is crying out for recognition from the construction/horticultural industries, with properly authorised training certification. We suffer from a chronic lack of recruiting, but offer virtually no rewards. There are no available courses in Hard landscaping, not at HND/C level or in the equivalent construction grades(excuse my academic knowledge) other than hybrid courses that teach a bit of everything. Where are the next skilled pavers/street masons? We do all aspects of construction, from paving, carpentry, rendering, groundworks, brickwork, horticulture, even basic plumbing and electrical installation, and yet local to us, Birmingham, there are no courses available of any value, apart from in rural areas(Pershore college being one), yet we are based in one of the UK's largest cities with a huge Urban client base. 

    I have been in the industry for nearly 34 years, yet have never received any formal training, there has never been any. I suffered at the hands of the crap YTS years, during the 80's, but luckily my formative years were also spent working in a number of construction jobs and for my Fathers landscaping firm, with lots of experience gained from older guys, but mainly I have had to self train. It's about time we gave Landscaping the credit it deserves and stopped treating it as second best to other more "glamorous" trades.

  • Totally agree with you all.

    It's about time the industry gained some recognition. In my time as a hardscaper I have seen the sector grow tremendously.

    Consumers are willing to invest much more in their outside space than when I first started out some 23 years ago. Unfortunately the education sector has failed to notice and respond to this.

    A local radio station in my area ran an advertising campaign for the Welsh Gov. urging employers to take on apprentices. When I inquired with careers Wales there were no suitable training providers! The closest match was a grounwork NVQ with CITB.

    Funny thing is a formally agricultural and horticultural college local to me provides courses in bricklaying, sports science, equestrian sciences etc, but the closest course relevant to landscaping is garden design.

    I've seen this topic discussed on other web forums so it's obviously something that needs addressing.

  • I'm in general agreement with the principles of what's already been said. However, it is an independent examining body which is needed to set the training standards of what is to be taught. This is for two reasons:

    A single training body is unlikely to have the reach to cover the whole country, putting unreasonable costs on those sponsors (i.e. us) wanting to have staff trained when situated at long distances from the training centres. This problem already exists for some contractors regarding, e.g., landscaping specific H&S courses but would be exacerbated with a single training body.

    A proprietary body such as Marshalls or Bradstone would not have the confidence of other manufacturers, quarriers or importers. It would inject all sorts of monopoly fears and possible open hostility from legislators.

    CITB may (or may not) be perfectly placed to set the standards, with the cooperation of the industry bodies. There is no option but to involve them as the alternative is to court the cooperation of a plethora of companies unable to find a single focus, let alone the time to participate fully. The earlier point made of no single new body still holds.

    Then the existing colleges and educational establishments will have to be persuaded to design and deliver courses to teach the techniques and standards required to satisfy the examiners at a price the contracting companies could afford to pay.

    Such a move is long overdue. I fear we shall have to wait a while longer as I am not aware of any serious discussions taking place beyond the unofficial mutterings of a few landscapers among themselves. This is the first time I have seen it raised in any public forum a direct way.

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