A first-of-its-kind apprenticeship initiative to foster a growing, highly skilled and more diverse workforce within the forestry sector has been announced (Monday 7 February) as National Apprenticeship Week commences.
The Development Woodland Officer programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for passionate individuals looking to kickstart their careers in forestry. Jointly led by the Forestry Commission, the University of Cumbria and the Institute of Chartered Foresters, the programme marks the first time that a degree-level forestry apprenticeship has been offered in the UK.
The initiative aims to grow, upskill, and diversify the forestry sector workforce. Expanding long-term workforce capacity will help to deliver the Government’s tree planting and woodland creation ambitions over the coming years as we build back greener.
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 Professional Forester BSc (Hons) and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
Forestry Commission Chief Executive, Richard Stanford said: “This new programme offers a new and exciting career pathway into the forestry sector for people from all backgrounds and abilities.
“It offers the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience, a BSc (Hons) and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters. The Forestry Commission apprentices will be paid and will gain all these qualifications, with zero tuition fees and no need for a student loan.
“We are looking for ambitious, driven individuals who are eager to support our ambitious tree planting plans and ensure our precious woods and forests continue to flourish for generations to come.”