Natural England to double its number of apprentices

Natural England is to boost its apprentice scheme in order to encourage people to work in the environmental sector

Natural England is to almost double the number of its apprentices from 18 to 35 by the end of the year.

The non-departmental public body said an increase in its apprenticeship opportunities would inspire more people to take up a career in the environmental sector.

Natural England apprentices currently range in age from their early 20s to their mid-40s, and their backgrounds include ex-military, arboriculture and art students.

The apprentices are currently funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England. In a 12 to 18 month placement, Natural England says they are able to pick up essential skills as well as qualifications, such as level 2 diplomas in environmental conservation or customer service qualifications.

Of those who have completed apprenticeships this year, some have found roles with Natural England and others at the National Trust and Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Steve Walker, former Natural England apprentice and now reserve manager at Kingley Vale National Natural Reserve, said: “When you think of an apprentice you’ll probably think of someone in their late teens so it may surprise you to know I started my apprenticeship with Natural England in my thirties.

“To say it has been life changing is no understatement, and making the decision to change my career later in life was surprisingly easy. Thankfully I gained a permanent role with Natural England soon after completing my apprenticeship.

The Natural England apprentice scheme will be funded through the introduction of the government’s apprenticeship levy from 2017.

Government apprenticeships can be applied for here.

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