As I write this, I realise that during the past fourteen years since I have been contributing to this magazine, Australia seems to have weathered one major event after another.
We have worked and evolved through the GFC, cyclones, floods, drought, fires and now we are in the middle of the COVID-19 world pandemic and working through yet another one in a hundred year event.
As well as the tragic loss of life and livelihoods of people throughout the world, demand and supply requirements have gone through an extra few years of pulpwood and rice supplies in the quest to provide society with its needs (hoarders!). We have seen selfless dedication of essential frontline workers and healthcare professionals as well as selfishness and greed within others.
As we, the lucky ones, are able to look around us and restock /reschedule our lives, we see many example
One thing that our industry has in common with nature is that in almost all disasters it would seem that anyone working in the rural industries becomes even more in demand. Along with the building trades and everyone that carries out manual or outdoor work, it would seem that it is almost business as usual, which is resulting in even operators in rural industry, both at the trade and the diploma levels.
It has proved my point yet again that, while working within the tree industry, you will always benefit from continuing learning and professional development through attaining and maintaining trade or diploma level qualifications, achieved through the VET sector (Vocational Education & Training). This is our Australian further education system that ensures nationally accredited competency-based training is developed with industry reference and focuses on providing practical skills for work.
At TFT we are busy with a full cohort of students, some who are graduating as trade and Diploma level arborists, and some who are just beginning the journey towards achieving their goals.
As ever we are following the course of nature and reacting and evolving to a whole new world due in some pts to the current pandemic and social distancing, but along with the wonders of modern technology – as well as reacting to the ever changing needs of our education system – we have been busy at TFT with a new task called “digitalisation”.
This means that, in addition to our face-to-face training abilities, the majority of our theory classes’ qualifications and RPL will now be able to be completed online.
In Australia all industries serviced by the VET sector are assigned a specific training package. Each training package contains a range of competency units managed by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) who set the national policy for regulated qualifications.
in the Australian education and training system, together with rules that specify how a particular qualification – for example the Certificate III in Arboriculture – is assembled, delivered and meets the requirements of the training package. The training package is compiled to set industry standards regarding assessment rules.
Training organisations must comply with standards that are set by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) who are the national regulator for the vocational education and training (VET) sector.
Training packages are reviewed and managed through a series of organisations as explained below.
Australian Industry And Skills Committee (AISC)
This is a committee of industry leaders from across Australia who make decisions about what qualifications are needed and when.
Skills Service Organisations (SSOS)
Formally known as Industry Skills councils, SSO’s are organisations that develop the training packages that industry needs.
These groups are assigned to a range of industries and their job is to manage update and recommend how the training package is implemented.
The organisations consult with Industry and advisory groups to produce and set up individual units of competency as industry standard requirements.
In the older arboricultural Certificte III qualification, according to the rules, it was almost mandatory that, to be able to achieve a Certificate III in Arboriculture, trees had to be climbed using a rope and harness and this unfairly precluded some applicants who for example were working in the utility industry and trimming trees around power lines from an EWP (Elevated Work Platform) or those that will only carry out work from an EWP.
To facilitate these factors in a stream was added to the Certificate III to enable all at height work to be completed using an EWP.
A ground-based stream was also added for those who wish to be qualified in the Arb industry but have no need or desire to carry out work above ground.
So now it is possible to choose your option to become a qualified arborist at Certificate level, whether you access the trees with ropes or only work from a EWP or just want to be ground based. It’s a great opportunity and also important to make sure you choose the level that suits your needs and abilities. There are some that would argue that climbing trees is essential and that to be an arborist you must be a climber, but what about industry legends such as the likes of Dr Alex Shigo and Claus Mattheck? They didn’t climb trees but they changed and will forever influence our industry and the way we care for trees.
The world is changing. Instead of just having to be good at lifting heavy things we now have to be able to integrate with the digital revolution.
“Making the effort and spending the time to study and achieve the relevant arboricultural qualifications will lead you on a lifelong journey in one of the most diverse industries I know and build you a skill base that once all the travel restrictions are lifted you will be able to use your skills anywhere in the world”.
Refresher and VOC
Within the current WHS legislation there is a general obligation for persons in the workplace to act with diligence, which is a pretty open ended term, placing obligations on everyone while they are at work including employers the self-employed and employees with the general requirement to carry out their duties as responsible operators it is also a requirement that all workers are trained in their roles and deemed competent and current in their required skills.
One of the best ways to maintain current within industry would be to undertake refresher training to update the qualification or relevant unit of competency and receive an update certificate, sometimes referred to as a VOC or verification of competency.
Refresher / VOC assessment is generally carried out in a shorter time frame than a full training course. It consists of an overall assessment and general update of current skill levels which generally picks up and corrects any bad habits that may have crept in over time.
Take It To The Next Level
To be able to be recognised as a qualified person within the arboricultural industry the general requirements are that you will complete a course of training in the form of an apprenticeship and, while working in the industry, attending a training facility If you are more experienced, then you may consider supplying evidence to be able to undertake a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process to achieve the AHC30816 Certificate III in Arboriculture.
This is the qualification (AQF3) that is currently classified within Australian Standard definitions and accepted throughout Australia as the minimum industry standard requirement to be able to be considered as a trade level qualified working arborist.
The journey to achieve the Certificate III in Arboriculture qualification involves the completion of 23 industry endorsed units of competency that have been designed according to industry requirements after being composed, engineered, checked and industry approved.
Once you have achieved the Certificate III in Arboriculture or want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience, the next step would be to continue your progression within the arboricultural industry and to follow the pathway from trade level working arborist and take it to the next level by undertaking the AHC50516 Diploma of Arboriculture.
To achieve the Diploma you will begin a journey that will see you develop and gain an intimate and considerable working tree knowledge, you will be educated through a combination of online and face to face training and assessment methods resulting in your successful completion of 10 nationally recognised industry endorsed units of competency that make up the Diploma.
Achieving this qualification will enable you to demonstrate the highest arboricultural standards within the arboriculture industry such as tree care business owner, lead arborist, tree officer, arboricultural manager or consulting arborist.
We understand that within the tree industry staff are often quite transient and some employees are prone to move around a lot more than others, which results in employers always looking for new staff.
I well remember from my days as an employer this is not a favourite task for anyone who employs staff. Please don’t use that as a reason for not training any new staff though.
A process that we at TFT have been suggesting for several years now is proving to be so true regarding the almost everyday question we get from employers we urgently need “a new qualified groundie climber or consulting arborist to join our operation”. Remember, new workers don’t grow on trees unfortunately, but if you want to have reliable professional staff you have to be prepared to invest in them.
One of the best sources for new staff often overlooked is that some of the best new recruits could actually come from within your company where a current employee is encouraged and supported to step up to the plate and develop new skills while to some extent learning on the job and continuing to earn their keep at the same time.
When this process is coupled with the journey through the arboricultural Certificate III or the Diploma qualifications and you are prepared to work with your trainee and their training organisation the outcome is a well-rounded competent and qualified staff member that is a real asset to your business.
We at TFT recommend employing as many new recruits as you are able to support but bear in mind that apprenticeship supervision is recommended to be one qualified worker to one apprentice.
As your apprentice is working their way through the training process, they will steadily begin to repay your investment in their future by becoming more useful and able to operate more efficiently within your company.
By the time they graduate they will probably go on to become your next lead climber crew leader or manager and could also be helping to train your next apprentice to keep your company evolving.
If your apprentice decides to leave and move on once they are qualified, then at least you will have had some return on your investment, while they were employed with you and, if you get the balance right, then there will always be upcoming apprentices that will keep the cycle flowing, giving you access to staff that already know your business and systems that will continue to provide a return on the investment you have made in them.
The government have realised the skills shortage and the importance of our industry and there is considerable support available for organisations that are investing in and training their staff.
Training is as important as the servicing of vehicles and machinery, after all, workers are the machinery that you run and need to maintain to enable the smooth operation of your business.
At TFT we believe the message is finally getting through regarding the importance of training and qualification and the benefits that it can bring to everyone including the trees. Any tree particularly if it is lucky enough to be under the supervision of a TFT qualified arborist will be a very happy tree indeed. Training for Trees is a registered training organisation (RTO). We are completely independent and are not auspiced attached to or operating under the direction or licence of any other RTO or parent company.
“Nature is a wonderful mechanism and it will survive, and then it will thrive.”
This means we are personally able look after our students and employers at every step of their journey and beyond.
“It has been proven that independent training and assessment increases staff retention safety awareness productivity and efficiency.”
Remember to schedule in regular refresher and update training sessions. If you want to be officially classified as a qualified arborist you will need to complete the appropriate level of qualification;
- AHC30816 Certificate III in arboriculture Or
- AHC50516 Diploma of arboriculture
Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III Arboriculture and Diploma. Now booking chainsaw courses running regularly (all levels), EWP Licence, First Aid, Working at heights, Chipper, Stump grinder, Pole saw and AC/DC. Contact us for your qualifications, short courses VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified.