Apprentices carve out careers in the great outdoors
The UK’s leading environmental education charity is trumpeting the success of its bespoke training programme this Apprenticeship Week.
Each year, the Field Studies Council recruits a new cohort of outdoor education apprentices and equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver courses at one of the charity’s field centres around the country.
The apprenticeships are delivered in collaboration with Channel Training and Kayleigh Hunter, senior tutor and apprentice co-ordinator for the charity, says the programme provides an effective route for those looking for a career in the environmental sector.
She said: “Training our own staff through the apprenticeship scheme means we have a steady pool of well-qualified potential instructors coming through each year, and the apprentices have the skills they need to either stay with the Field Studies Council, progress into further or higher education or move into a different part of the sector.
“Our apprentice retention rate is about 80 per cent, and almost all of those that don’t choose to stay with us continue onto further education such as full teacher training which is great for the wider environmental education sector.
“We’re delighted that our apprenticeships have opened the door to fulfilling careers for so many fantastic young people.
“Part of our mission is to help young people to realise the breadth of career options open to them in environmental occupations, and an outdoor instructor apprenticeship is a great first stepping stone.”
The charity is currently training nine apprentices working at Juniper Hall in Surrey, Amersham in Buckinghamshire, Blencathra in the Lake District, Slapton Ley in Devon, Preston Montford in Shropshire, Nettlecombe Court in Somerset and Castle Head in Cumbria, but the skills learnt mean they are qualified to apply for vacancies anywhere in the country.
During the apprenticeship, trainee instructors get an insight into the world of work, learn from experienced colleagues, and get the support they need from the rest of the team. Apprentices are observed and supported by experienced mentors and given time to develop their skills in an unpressured environment.
Kayleigh added: “The programme is bespoke and leads to qualifications in areas such as lowland leadership and learning beyond the classroom, setting the apprentices up with the skills and knowledge they need to teach on our huge range of courses.
“For the first few months they will observe other tutors, both in the classroom and out in the field, before gradually starting to teach sessions alongside more experienced staff. Once they are confident and have the subject knowledge they need, they will take on teaching on their own.
“Apprentices are never thrown in at the deep end – they progress individually as they develop each area of expertise, to make sure they are delivering sessions safely and effectively. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming the Class of 2024 to the Field Studies Council.”
Feedback from the apprentices is overwhelmingly positive.
Alice Crane, 21, is based at the charity’s Juniper Hall site in Mickleham, Surrey. She started the apprenticeship after completing a degree in biology and anthropology at Durham University and wants to continue working in the outdoor sector once qualified.
She said: “I’m finding the apprenticeship a really enriching and enjoyable experience. I’m supported by a great team and given lots of opportunities to develop my skills.”
Will Higgins, 25, is also undertaking his apprenticeship at Juniper Hall. He studied geography at Manchester University and previously worked as a teaching assistant and ecologist.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed being able to work outdoors every day and learn from other experienced outdoor instructors and tutors. I’m gaining skills that will hopefully help me progress to a full-time role at the end of the apprenticeship.”
Emily Boswell, 24, is undertaking her apprenticeship at the charity’s Amersham field centre in Buckinghamshire. She studied biological science at the University of Liverpool and worked as a trainee botanical ecologist for a year before joining the Field Studies Council’s apprenticeship programme.
She said: “Learning by doing the job has meant I can develop skills and gain confidence at the same time.”
Georgia Hunter, 22, who is based at the Field Studies Council Castle Head site in Cumbria started her apprenticeship after graduating with a degree in conservation biology and management.
She said: “I hope to stay working in environmental roles following the apprenticeship, either in an educational role or assisting with fieldwork for research. I hope my future will keep me outdoors and discovering things about the environment that excite and inspire me.”
For more information about apprenticeships with the Field Studies Council, visit www.field-studies-council.org/jobs-at-fsc/apprenticeships/