Grant for the Pesticide spraying course PA1 and PA6AW

I applied for funding for this short course because I knew that certification to spray was a barrier to progressing my career in horticulture.  Many recruiters are after candidates that can start immediately without having to be put through further training. There are limited opportunities for gardeners without the certification but any position that requires working on your own will require you to be able to spray pesticides legally.

A cursory glance at the Horticulturejobs website (04.04.12) shows just a couple of gardener positions that require or preference candidates with the PA1 and PA6 certificates.

“Maintaining current, relevant, certificates for handling pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and potentially dangerous substances.”- Whitgift School

“You will need to be a driver to be able to reach the site, and PA1 and 6 would be desirable.”- gardener Saffron Walden.

Unfortunately English Heritage was unable to offer me this course and the £500 cost of the course was more that I could afford on my wages. I had heard that the Professional Gardener’s Trust were offering grants for training courses and wondered if they would be able to help me.

When I received the good news about the funding, I adjusted my CV to explain that I was going to be put through my PA1 and PA6 courses. This resulted in my getting a job interview for the Salutation Gardens in Sandwich. Although this is only a summer position, it ties in well with my interest base which is Arts and Crafts style gardens and particularly herbaceous borders. Because this job is a summer job, they are unable to offer training and require somebody with all the relevant certificates. Although this is a summer position, it is an excellent step in the right direction and a chance to work a garden maintained to an extremely high standard. There is a possibility of the role becoming permanent for the right candidate.

Through participating in the short course, I was also able to network and learn about new organisations such as the National Amenity Sprayer Operators Register which will be more relevant to horticulture than the NRSO. I found out where to purchase chemicals locally in Kent and talked to people working in different sectors; including golf courses and commercial orchards. This helped increase my awareness of current trends in the industry and how issues such as the dry weather were being dealt with by other sectors.

The course tutor was able to impart advice about different brands of equipment and the pros and cons of different types of sprayer. They also offered practical advice based on experience rather than manufacturers’ recommendations.

Not only was I enrolled on the PA1 and PA6, but they also offered the ‘W’ element to allow me to spray near water, which is not offered at all training institutions. I was able to pass all elements of these assessments and the assessor’s comments included “very positive”.

In an economic environment that is becoming increasingly competitive, I am more hopefully about my prospects and believe that my certification will be the extra incentive to employers when they are looking at my CV. I am very grateful to the Professional Gardeners Guild Trust for providing me with the funding to achieve this.

Natasha Ransom