Building upon a successful intake of apprentices this year, the Forestry Commission has announced it will reopen its Woodland Officer programme in 2023, the first-of-its-kind apprenticeship initiative to foster a growing, highly skilled and diverse workforce within the forestry sector.
The Development Woodland Officer programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for passionate individuals from all backgrounds looking to kickstart their careers in forestry. It aims to grow and upskill the forestry sector workforce and is open to school leavers, graduates or anyone looking for a change in career direction. The programme supports jobs and opportunities in rural communities and helps increase capacity to meet tree planting and forest management needs to deliver the Government’s tree planting and woodland creation ambitions over the coming years.
Following in the footsteps of the original cohort, development woodland officers will benefit from academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria, practical experience in Forestry Commission area teams across England, and nine months of wider sector placements to further build their skills and experience, enhancing future employment prospects.
Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a BSc (Hons) in Forest Management and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Forestry Commission is also working with other employers in the sector to open up more opportunities for apprentices to join this programme.
Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford says: “The Development Woodland Officer programme is an exciting career pathway into forestry in general and the Forestry Commission in particular. The programme offers a wide range of forestry and silvicultural experiences to build knowledge across the entire forestry sector.
“I have seen first-hand the success of this programme, our current students are thriving though a unique mix of hands-on experience and academic studies as well as being in paid employment. I encourage people from all backgrounds and abilities interested in a rewarding career in forestry to apply.”
Louise Simpson, executive director, Institute of Chartered Foresters, says: “The Development Woodland Officer apprenticeship is an exciting new route into the industry. The demand for the programme is a clear indication of how important a role degree level apprenticeship will play in bringing new people into the sector.”