After a crazy summer we are now in the process of making final preparations for the launch of VETcert at the end of August.
In May we ran two days of pilot examinations at Hatfield Forest, Essex – thank you to all the willing ‘guinea-pig’ candidates, 8 of whom took the ‘practising‘ level and 12 the ‘consulting’ level exams. The candidates were chosen from a long list of volunteers (over 80 people expressed their interest in taking part) to represent a wide range of perspectives and industry sectors, and ranged from climbing arborists to senior consultants. These were long days, both for the candidates and the examiners, but they provided some very useful and constructive feedback to us as we finalise the format and detail of the examination procedure.
Both levels of the exam involve a written test and also practical, outdoor exercises with oral questioning carried out by two examiners working together. In the consulting exam, candidates also have to produce a management report on trees they survey and inspect in the field.
Following this valuable exercise, we have made some final adjustments to the content, structure and marking systems for different aspects of the exam at both levels, and we have adjusted the timing of the exam day to allow for reasonable travelling time.
Along with the detailed standards, which are already available to view on the VETcert website in a range of languages (www.vetcert.eu), we are also preparing documents that provide ‘indicative content’ to help prospective candidates understand the level of detail expected in the exam.
The VETcert Managing Body
Another important milestone in the project has been the confirmation of VETcert’s Managing Body arrangements. The European Arboricultural Council (EAC) has been one of the partners in the project from the beginning and its European Tree Worker (ETW) and European Tree Technician (ETT) qualifications have been seen as a model for how VETcert could be developed. However, we have been thorough in our scrutiny of other accreditation systems too, and we have now agreed that the VETcert Steering Group, made up of the 10 partner organisations, will continue to oversee the standards and quality assurance of the scheme, while the EAC will operate the central administration processes. Each participating country will have its own local Veteran Certification Centre (VCC), which will be responsible for arranging and organising exams and managing the examiners and all the logistical details. Candidates will register for the exam through the VCC and those who are successful will then be certificated through EAC. All relevant information about your local VCC, dates and venues for exams in your country and a list of all successful candidates holding the VETcert qualifications will be hosted on the VETcert website once the scheme is formally launched.
The detailed content of the Scheme Information, Rules and Regulations is currently being translated into all the participating countries’ languages, along with the exam papers and examiners’ documents.
We are now on the final run of finishing touches to a project that has run to schedule over three years and will culminate with a launch event in Sweden on 28 August. While the project has definitely been a fantastic team effort and I personally have met really good friends through it, it must be mentioned that one person has been the main driver and kept us all to time: Vikki Bengtsson from Pro Natura in Sweden has had the unenviable job of keeping 10 partners from 7 different countries on track to deliver a pan-European project of considerable complexity, exactly on time. Well done, Vikki, and thank you!
This article was taken form Issue 186 Autumn 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.