Muka Tangata supports Otago Polytechnic’s full learner pathway in sports turf management course

Muka Tangata has supported Otago Polytechnic in establishing a sports turf management education programme that provides a full pathway from secondary school to employment in the industry.

Otago Polytechnic currently delivers a full-time sports turf management course (New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) Sports Turf) – an 18-month programme providing an alternative to traditional apprenticeships.

This year they introduced a new Turf Trades Academy programme allowing secondary school students in the district to try out turf management with a view to continuing on to the level 4 programme.

Muka Tangata worked closely with Otago Polytechnic to support them in establishing the new Trades Academy. Key to this was acting quickly to delay the expiry of a number of unit standards they wanted to use, ensuring they were available for the Trades Academy students this year.

The Quality Assurance and Enhancement team ensured that the assessment resources needed for the start of the school year were pre-moderated and approved for use quickly so they could be used from the start.

The programme is a conduit to Otago Polytechnic’s Level 4 programme, which includes study at the campus – including a specialist outdoor training area and full fleet of vehicles –  then a paid, practical internship at one of New Zealand’s top golf or stadium venues.

John Prunnell, head of the Sports Turf Management programme who designed the programme and assessments for the Trades Academy, says Muka Tangata’s response was prompt and positive.

“Muka Tangata’s succinct, constructive and positive feedback allowed me to see, understand and reinforce the values and approach they are looking to achieve. It was a really good process,” says John.

Graduates develop an understanding of soil science, plant biology, machinery maintenance, irrigation and drainage, construction and surveying, supervision of staff and financial planning.

“It’s designed to give them a taste of what it is to work in the turf industry with very practically oriented units like use and maintenance of different types of mowers, hand tools and equipment, and maintaining established turf including line marking, irrigation and a construction project.”

With a focus on work experience, they earn as they learn, gaining the practical skills required while making important industry contacts for their future.