To understand what certified arborist training is we first need to talk about the definitions available. This will describe different levels of competency that an arborist can have.
There is the definition of being a competent person, qualified arborist and a certified arborist.
What is a competent person in arboriculture?
A competent person is someone who is assigned a task and can perform the task at the level required. The competent person does not necessarily need to be qualified or certified, this would depend on the complexity of the task.
And being a qualified or certified arborist will not automatically make you a competent person in all arboricultural tasks. As an employer we need to ensure that all tasks are performed by a competent person or that a competent person is supervising the unskilled person at all times while performing the task.
Unskilled staff could be a trainee who is just learning the task.
A qualified arborist in New Zealand is an arborist that has proven his understanding of arboriculture by fulfilling and achieving specific unit standards through training and assessment.
There are 4 unit standards based qualifications that an arborist can achieve in New Zealand: New Zeeland Certificate in Arboriculture Level 3, 4, 5 and the New Zeeland Diploma in Arboriculture Level 6.
All unit standards based qualifications in New Zealand are developed and monitored by the NZQA and the industry training organisations.
What is a certified arborist in New Zealand?
Being a certified arborist in New Zealand would mean that you are participating in a certification process. This certification process would include exams that show the level of your understanding of good arboricultural practice.
Most certifications have an expiry date and you will need to participate in professional development training to revalidate your certification. The idea behind this is to get arborists to up-skill continually rather than relying on a one-off qualification.
The best example here is the certified arborist training through the ISA. To maintain an ISA arborist certification you need to achieve a certain amount of CEUs throughout the year.
What it all boils down to is that we as employers need to ensure that all employees are competent in the tasks that they are preforming. Here is where certified arborist training could play a role in modern New Zealand arboriculture. By developing a certification process with set goals and outcomes the certification process could be standardised.