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Conservation apprentices by Doug JacksonConservation apprentices by Doug Jackson

The Authority set up its first apprentice scheme in 2002 to help young people develop the skills and confidence to find jobs locally and therefore sustain local communities. The practical skills programmes that we have run as part of our environmental conservation apprenticeship are training people in countryside management, farming and traditional building skills that are in short supply locally.

Having seen the benefits of our conservation apprenticeships to both the Authority and the wider community, we have extended the number we offer to include apprenticeships in business administration and finance and have plans to develop apprenticeships in new areas of work in the future. At the moment 14% of our workforce is made up of apprentices and as well as the 16 we employ, we support the employment of a further 8 apprentices within the National Park.

Despite significant cuts to our budgets in recent years, we are increasing the financial resources for apprenticeships and we see working with schools to promote apprenticeships as one of a range of options for all academic abilities as an important priority.

For the Authority, the rewards of apprenticeships are huge. For example, in a typical two years, a team of conservation apprentices will enrich 20 hectares of habitats, improve 40km of recreational routes and build or repair 4.5km of dry stone wall, hedge or fence boundaries. Without our apprentices, this work either wouldn’t be done or we would have to spend considerably more than the cost of our apprentices on contractors.

Ian Nicholls, Assistant Director of Corporate Services, said:

We love the life and vitality that our apprentices bring to the workplace and staff really enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience with them. As well as academic qualifications and practical skill, the emphasis we put on team working and other ‘soft’ skills means that our apprentices leave us as well rounded individuals.”

Current apprentices at the North York Moors National Park Authority

Harry Leonard – Environmental Conservation Apprentice is 16 and lives in Pickering. He joined us after completing his GCSE’s at Lady Lumley’s in Pickering and is in the 8th month of his apprenticeship. Harry is working towards his level 2 apprenticeship but is keen to stay on and achieve level 3. He enjoys the outdoor practical work and being part of a team.

He says:

This apprenticeship has given me lots of valuable experience and qualifications which I hope will make me much more employable. It is one of the best things that I have ever done and really helps you to make the transition from school or college to a working environment. I was very lucky to get this apprenticeship and feel very happy that I decided to take this route rather than staying at school. I would say to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship – just go for it!”

Emma Scattergood – Environmental Conservation Apprentice is 22 and lives in York. She has been with us for 15 months and is working towards her level 2. Previously Emma was unemployed. The apprenticeship appealed as she has a love for wildlife and has always wanted to work outdoors.

She says:

I enjoy being an apprentice because I am outside nearly every day and am doing something different every week. I would like to get a similar job when I finish – particularly for a wildlife trust or the RSPB – and the apprenticeship will give me the skills I need.”

Kerry Barker – Business Administration Apprentice is 17 and lives in Husthwaite (near Easingwold). She joined us in September following her GCSEs. At the moment she has no firm idea about what she might do next but is enjoying learning from the Authority’s staff, meeting new people and developing a range of skills. Kerry says that doing the apprenticeship was one of the best decisions she ever made.

She adds:

I spend a lot of time in the North York Moors and it’s an area I really care about. I wanted to be a part of the organisation that conserves and maintains it. Since working at the North York Moors, I have become a lot more confident and have much better communication skills. I think this will make me much more appealing to potential employers as I have developed skills which those who have stayed in mainstream education may lack.”

Previous apprentices with the North York Moors National Park Authority

Dale Sutherland–Roberts is 28 and lives in Malton. He completed an apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation between 2004 and 2006 and is now a works supervisor for the Forestry Commission. He feels apprenticeships provide an opportunity for experienced workers to pass on their knowledge to the next generation and, for the apprentice, are a great way to gain the practical skills for future work and life in general while gaining recognised qualifications.

Dale says:

The apprenticeship with the North York Moors gave me the skills, knowledge and qualifications to join the Forestry Commission but it also gave me the confidence and work ethic to push forwards in my career. I enjoyed working with a group of like-minded people, making friends for life – not just with fellow apprentices – but also with all the staff I worked alongside at the North York Moors. I still feel welcome and part of the family whenever I pop in to say hello.”

Sarah Bell is 22 and lives in Kirkbymoorside. She completed an apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation between 2007 and 2009 and is now a works supervisor for the Forestry Commission. In addition to the Environmental Conservation qualification, Sarah gained other skills and qualifications during her apprenticeship with the North York Moors such as chainsaw tickets, trailer licence and a 360 digger licence which have all helped in her chosen career.

She says:

Apprenticeships are a great opportunity to get qualifications while learning the practical side; ideas for someone who doesn’t want to sit in a classroom all day to learn.”

Grace Bellwood is 20 and lives in Stillington, York. She completed a level 2 and 3 apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation between 2010 and 2012 and is now studying for a foundation degree in countryside management at Askham Bryan College. She believes the apprenticeship gave her the confidence to pursue her education further and provided the practical knowledge and experience to back up the theoretical side of her degree.

Grace says:

I found the apprenticeship with the National Park incredibly worthwhile, learning skills and gaining knowledge that I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere else. The National Park has supported me not only during my apprenticeship but after as well - I am still returning to volunteer and help the conservation department with surveys to add to my studies.”

Nicole Halstead is 24 and lives in Pickering. She completed a level 2 and 3 Business Administration NVQ with the Authority and now works as a Learning and Development Administrator for the Wilf Ward Family Trust. In addition to a useful qualification, she feels the apprenticeship also gave her an insight into the working world and helped her learn to work as part of a team and on her own.

Nicole says:

I really enjoyed my time working at the National Park. I think all the training and experience has really set me up for life, working with different people and learning so many different things.”