A pioneering international accreditation programme to standardise vocational training and assessment in the arboriculture industry across the world is being championed by the UK’s largest, specialist arboricultural company, Gristwood and Toms Ltd.
The pilot scheme, spearheaded by ABA International and UK vocational training specialists, A1 Arborists, enables chainsaw operators from around the globe to evidence their skills and qualifications to an internationally agreed standard. Arboricultural companies will be able to employ ABA certificated workers with confidence, knowing that the required operator skills and safety standards have been achieved.
To date, the scheme has gained the support of 22 countries, and hopefully, within the next year, countries like Japan and China will also sign up. National training manager for Gristwood and Toms, Nick Obern, has been deeply involved in the development and promotion of the standardised certification, alongside industry colleagues from across Europe. As verifier and assessor for City and Guilds, Nick has been an integral part of the technical team, drafting the new competency standards and quality assurance guidance.
Nick and his colleagues from the University of Copenhagen have also discussed the pressing challenge faced by many UK arboricultural companies at present, in the area of recruitment. To help tackle the shortage of qualified tree surgeons in the UK, G&T and the University of Copenhagen have jointly initiated a student transfer programme, with the first intake of three Danish students joining Gristwood and Toms in the UK for a three month period.
It was a ‘voyage of discovery’ on both parts, as this was the first time Gristwood and Toms had taken on college students from abroad. For a couple of the students, this was their first time visiting England, let alone working here.
Commenting on the transfer programme, Nick says: “The Danish students have worked extremely hard and learnt a lot from being here. The students from Denmark, are determined and very eager to learn; it is very refreshing for us to see the fresh energy and eagerness they bring with them into the workplace.”
Nick continues: “This is a rolling programme, and it will continue to grow. Many other Danish students have registered their interest in the scheme and will be joining Gristwood and Toms in the Spring of 2018, along with the previous three students who have asked to stay on.”