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Start A New Career In Tree Care Now

by editor arbor age

As we work through these unprecedented times at TFT we are lucky to be able to continue to be part of the journey with our students.

It is always exciting to see new entrants to our industry and as trainers we have the honourable task of introducing training and guiding new recruits through their entry into industry and see them progress and develop a career that is often life changing can be used throughout the world (once borders open again!) and lasts a lifetime.

If you are considering arboriculture as your new career, looking to upskill or want to get your skills and experience recognised, then have a think about where you want to be and ask yourself the following questions:
• Are you currently working in the arboricultural industry?
• Are you ok with heights?
• Do you want to be a climber?
• Do you want to work at height from an EWP?
• Do you want to work around utilities such as within the energy supply network?
• Do you want to work in a commercial or domestic environment?
• Do you want to work within the municipal system?
• Do you want to specialise in plant health care?
• Do you just want to drive a truck and lift heavy things?
• Are you already at managerial or consultant level and need to achieve your Diploma?

Remember you don’t have to be a climber to be considered as a qualified arborist although some will argue that climbing trees is essential and that to be an arborist you must be a climber, but what about some of the industry legends?

For example, Dr Alex Shigo and Claus Mattheck didn’t climb trees but have shaped our industry and the way we care for trees immensely.

There are also a number of highly regarded practicing consulting arborists that have never climbed commercially.

The minimum industry requirement to enable you to be officially recognised as a qualified arborist is the Certificate III in Arboriculture. This qualification is currently classified within Australian Standard definitions and accepted by industry throughout Australia as the minimum industry standard requirement to be able to be considered as a trade level qualified working arborist.

To achieve the Certificate III or a Diploma of Arboriculture and therefore be considered as qualified person within the arboricultural industry the general requirements are that you will complete a period of training and assessment based in both the practical workplace environment and the classroom.

Alternatively, there is an option to follow a process called Recognition of prior learning (RPL). This process can often be a shortcut to getting qualified.

So just to be clear, RPL is not a fast track way to become qualified in our industry. It can sometimes actually be harder to provide the body of evidence that is required for RPL than to enrol in a full course of training and assessment.

However, if you have been in the arboricultural industry for a while, it could well turn out to be a fairly easy exercise for you to provide the required proof of learning.

You will need to work closely with an approved registered training organisation to be able to collate and organize all the information you will have accumulated over the years and ensure that the provided evidence meets the training package requirements.

What sort of evidence will you need to provide?
The evidence provided has to be referenced and documented against the requirements of the unit of competency.

Evidence for assessment must conform to the following requirements of assessment in the vocational education and training system (VET):
• Valid means to demonstrate that you are able to carry out the required range of skills and knowledge that are essential to competent performance
• Sufficient means to supply enough evidence to enable a judgement to be made of your level of competency
• Authentic means the evidence presented for assessment is your own work
• Current means that evidence demonstrates current competency. This requires the assessment evidence to be from the present or the very recent past.

If you have spent say five to ten years working in the tree industry and during that time also been a member of one of the tree care associations, attended shows conferences trade days and networked with likeminded individuals, it is likely that you will have generated quite a considerable amount of evidence regarding the skills and knowledge requirements of the arboricultural industry along the way.

You may also subscribe to publications such as this one as a way of keeping up with current industry practice and news.
• You should be able to produce documented evidence regarding time spent in industry such as references from employer’s customers etc.
• You would have probably designed and implemented a work health and safety system for your business or organisation with SWMS and procedures documented
• You would have evidence of supervisory skills and organising worksites
• Experience with machinery such as chippers grinders and EWP
• Competency certificates such as white card working at height, manual handling, chainsaw tree felling, chemicals, tree climbing, aerial rescue and high-risk work licences, to list a few
• You may well have some excellent tree identification skills and one of the ways to demonstrate them would be to produce a mini herbarium (Dried pressings) of leaves and flowers from your favourite local trees as evidence or even just for your own reference materials
• Have you attended any industry workshops?
• Have you completed any professional development such as a tree risk assessment course?

If you are supplying photos or time lapse video, then you need to make sure that it is possible to clearly see that it is you in the pictures and that the presentation covers the complete operation.

A guide would be to compile the evidence of a particular job by following the dot points below as an example of carrying out a pruning task.
• Organisation of staff on site and allocation of tasks
• Initial tree, risk assessment documentation
• Demonstrate an understanding of CODIT and the Australian standard AS4373Pruning of amenity trees
• Works specification to comply with the pruning standard AS4373 Pruning of amenity trees
• Access methods into the tree
• Working within the tree using industry approved techniques and correct work positioning
• Complete range of pruning operations demonstrating a wide range of cuts and techniques
• Finished jobs.
You will also need to back up photo and video evidence with evidence from a third party such as an employer.

There is also a requirement to supply several examples of works carried out to trees at different worksites.

Include any relevant documentation to support the evidence supplied such as:
• Copies of the JSEA
• Detail reasons for specifying the pruning recommendations
• Work order or letter from the client

The evidence needs to be clearly labelled at the relevant stages and not just be in the form of a whole heap of photos and video attached to an email with no explanations.

Remember with RPL you have to demonstrate compliance with current best practice and it’s important you know that it’s not just an easy run to get a ticket.

There is a current skills shortage in the arboricultural industry. With the financial assistance currently available now is the time to think about taking those first steps towards the true tree care career change you’ve always dreamed of and to become a recognised and qualified arborist.

The journey to achieve arboriculture qualifications currently involves the completion of industry endorsed units of competency that have been designed according to industry requirements and composed engineered checked and industry approved.

Once you have achieved the Certificate III in Arboriculture served your time in the physical side of the job or just want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience the next step would be to continue your progression within the arboricultural industry and consider the progression from trade level working arborist to the next level which is to undertake the Diploma of Arboriculture.

While the RPL process also applies to the Diploma of Arboriculture, there is a considerable amount of industry required evidence that must be provided and as for the Certificate III in Arboriculture if you have been in industry for a considerable period of time you may be able to provide the required evidence.

The Diploma of Arboriculture requires the completion of ten nationally recognised industry endorsed units of competency.

To consider and comply with the broad expectations of the arboriculture industry and the emphasis on quality, the RPL requirements for the Diploma of Arboriculture would require evidence in the following areas:
• Intimate knowledge regarding the workings of a tree along with its anatomy and physiology
• Specification and planting of new trees
• Broad overview of planning legislation and compliance requirements
• Extensive Visual tree assessment and risk management
• Disease and decay diagnosis and management
• Looking after trees on development sites
• Preparation and submission of quality reports for clients and management.

Employers remember your company’s most valuable asset is its employees and new workers don’t grow on trees.
Employers that invest heavily in ongoing training for their staff generally demonstrate high standards of workmanship and are often the companies that win the best contracts.

If you want to have reliable professional staff you have to be prepared to invest in them. As your trainees are working their way through the training and learning 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.

It has been proven that independent training and assessment increases staff retention safety awareness productivity and efficiency.

Can you demonstrate that you have adequately maintained compliance and currency? Can you demonstrate evidence of recent staff training or updating within your company?

When did you last organize an aerial rescue practice day? Or audit the pruning standards within your crew?

These sorts of sessions are great team builders and also help to promote safety and confidence within your workers.

Have staff members attended recent courses workshops or verification of competency (VOC) sessions?

Are all qualifications certificates and licences up to date?

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 a skill base that once all the travel restrictions are lifted you will enable you to use your skills anywhere in the world.

“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.”

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, TAFE or parent company. This means we are personally able to look after our students and employers at every step of their journey and beyond.

If you want to be officially classified as a qualified arborist you will need to complete the appropriate level of qualification:
• Tree worker or climbing Arborist Certificate III in Arboriculture
• Consulting Arborist Diploma of Arboriculture

“Safety Rules”
Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III in Arboriculture and Diploma. Contact us for your qualifications, short courses, VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified. See our website www.trainingfortrees.com.au for details or email [email protected]

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