Sportsturf Management Education Review

Albert Sherry and Simone Staples from the National Turf Education Working Group (NTEWG) provide an update on the current review taking place of the industry’s Sportsturf Management training package.


With changes made by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) on how training packages are reviewed, the meeting of the National Turf Education Working Group (NTEWG) last December concentrated on detailing inadequacies in the current training package for the Australian turf industry.  

Once identified, these concerns were presented to an Industry Reference Committee (IRC) and Skills Impact who assisted in putting together the NTEWG’s submission for the ‘Employment, Skills Outlook and Training Product Review Plan 2017-2020’.  

This submission was successful and the NTEWG received approval in June 2018 to proceed with the review.

As a result, Skills Impact, in consultation with IRC members, invited a representative sample of industry to form a working group to prepare draft documentation for wider turf industry consultation later this year. 

This ‘subject matter expert’ (SME) group consists of industry representatives from all sports turf sectors and States, providing much needed advice and background information on all areas of turf management and training. 

The group includes;


The National Turf Education Working Group is working hard to ensure sports turf management education standards in Australia are the best they can be to address the needs of the industry


  • Simone Staples (AGCSA)
  • Jyri Kaapro (Bayer) 

Western Australia


  • Hugh Gardner (NTEWG/STA WA/Subiaco Council)
  • John Forrest (Hartfield Country Club)

South Australia

  • Damien Hough (Adelaide Oval)



  • Dr Phillip Ford (Consultant)
  • John Shannon (STAVIC/Melbourne Grammar School)
  • Chris Deppeler (Gordon TAFE)

Australian Capital Territory


  • Wade Turner (NSW Bowling Greenkeepers Association/Queanbeyan BC)
  • Bruce Davies (Canberra Institute of Technology)

New South Wales 


  • Albert Sherry (NTEWG/TAFE NSW)
  • Mark Schroder (NSWGCSA/Liverpool GC)


  • Darren Lee (GCSAQ/Palm Meadows GC)



The Process


The purpose of the SME group is to provide industry engagement and expertise in the review and redevelopment of the sports turf management qualifications and related units of competency in the AHC Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package. 

With the main objective to define the main occupations and job functions within the sports turf management industry, two highly productive meetings have been conducted to date at the Skills Impact office in North Melbourne. At these meetings the following information was determined;

  • The typical job roles for each qualification conducted across the turf industry; 
  • Key purposes in those roles;
  • Work functions of each role; 
  • Typical tasks conducted in each role;
  • Required skills and knowledge expected by industry at each qualification level. 
  • Revision of the specialist 17 sports turf units specific to each qualification (specialist sectors have been and will review, business, pest management, irrigation, WHS and environmental units currently used in the training package); and
  • Construction of a qualification pathway reflecting industry needs.

As part of the review, all units of competency have been assessed to determine where improvements could be made and find any noticeable ‘gaps’ in the units of competency

There are four main phases in the review process.

Phase 1: Job roles and purpose of each qualification

The group discussed job titles and their purpose within the sports turf industry and put together a workforce analysis.  Although job titles for various roles vary slightly within different parts of the industry, the following roles were aligned against current Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) levels:

Certificate II

  • Groundstaff (pre-trade) – pre-apprenticeship (aligned to AQF Level 2)
  • Purpose: To support groundstaff and conduct ongoing maintenance practices in sports turf management facilities

Certificate III

  • Sports turf tradesperson – apprenticeship (aligned to AQF Level 3)
  • Purpose: Use agronomy to produce sports turf surfaces to a standard expected by sports turf industry stakeholders and/or the public.

Certificate IV

  • Assistant golf course superintendent/assistant turf manager (aligned to AQF Level 4)
  • Purpose: Use agronomic skills to lead and manage workgroups (including contractors). Work autonomously and take responsibility for the outcome of own work and that of the team.


  • Golf course Superintendent/Sportsturf Manager (aligned to AQF Level 5)  
  • Purpose: Management of the sports turf facility. 

The SME group was then divided into smaller groups to determine the job tasks for each qualification.  


Phase 2: Review of existing units

Working with Skills Impact representatives, curriculum writers and experts, the SME group started a revision of the existing AHCTRF units taught from Certificate II to Diploma level to determine where improvements could be made and find any noticeable ‘gaps’ in the units of competency. 

This exercise will also assist in establishing if; 
•    Any new units need to be written to facilitate changes within the industry; and 
•    The training package needs to be expanded to include new skills.


Phase 3: Industry consultation

Once the initial review is completed and the SME group is satisfied with the draft documents, they will be released for wider industry consultation. Skills Impact will host information workshops in most major capital cities to brief any interested parties on the content and reasoning behind the drafts. Wider consultation via websites and online feedback forms will also be available to allow the broadest possible input.  The initial consultation is currently scheduled for late October/early November 2018.

This feedback will be considered, documents will be rewritten taking into account arguments received, before being reposted for a second round of consultation. Association websites (eg: AGCSA), publications and social media will keep industry aware of the progress and how they can contribute, participate in workshops and give feedback. 


Phase 4: Implementation

It is hoped that after the two industry consultation periods that the final draft will be ready to submit to the Industry Reference Committee for endorsement in April 2019, before being forwarded to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee and other government agencies for approval. Implementation would then start in February 2020.

For more information about the training package review or to get in touch with the National Turf Education Working Group, please contact one of the following representatives;