Why a hands-on approach to training could benefit your career
With more than 3,000 environmental conservation organisations in the UK, the industry plays a vital role in protecting our landscapes, habitats and species and providing public access and recreation.
Its workforce is well-educated too, with around 75% qualified to degree level, compared to a UK average of under 30%.
Although having a degree or other higher level qualification is often a requirement for entering the industry, voluntary experience, vocational qualifications or training are an attractive addition to CVs as well, no matter where you are in your career.
In today’s competitive world, more and more people are realising how important it is to keep up-to-date with skills or technical knowledge and to highlight their value to potential employers.
Having properly trained staff helps ensure a safer and more productive working environment, so investing in training makes sense for employers too.
In recent years environmental protection and sustainability have become increasingly important, as organisations look to show that they comply with legislation and have sound environmental ethics that meet market standards and customer expectations.
As a result, industry is coming under more scrutiny, and environmental and ecological factors are increasingly becoming an integral part of business decisions.
This in turn has implications for skills development, which has been looked at in research carried out by Lantra on employability skills within the environmental conservation industry
When asked what skills their staff lacked, around a third of respondents cited technical and practical skills, with 60% saying they would increase training activity to remedy the issue.
All agreed that the training they had undertaken had been of benefit to their organisation, with most also saying that it had increased productivity.
The research highlighted evidence of a need for practical skills such as manual handling, tree cutting, and dangers around the use of chemicals. Field survey and species identification skills are also a key industry requirement. Other important skills identified included time management, people skills, and numeracy and literacy skills.
Lantra is an awarding body which has been offering training and qualifications across the land-based and environmental sector for over 40 years, according to Business Relationship Manager Jacqui Bruce.
She explained: “it’s really important that training and development within the sector is industry-led, as this should help ensure a competent workforce who have the skills to carry out their jobs safely and effectively.
Professional industry bodies and employers work closely with us too, as we want our training to be fit for purpose, to meet industry requirements and ensure safe working practices.
In order to make sure that our training courses and qualifications are recognised across the sector, we work with regulatory bodies Ofqual, Scottish Qualifications Authority and Qualifications Wales too.
Our courses and qualifications are delivered by a network of approved training providers across the whole of the UK and Republic of Ireland in a wide range of areas, including: tractors and attachments, pesticides and pest control, ATVs and 4x4, health and safety and first aid, chainsaws and arboriculture equipment, landscape machinery, safe use of firearms and e-learning.
Learners can go from basic training, improving their skills and completing refresher courses right through to a full qualification. Skills development is equally important to the continuing professional development of established staff as well as those looking to start their career in environmental conservation.
We are local, on a national scale, providing the recognition that people need but making our programmes accessible across the country.”
Here are some of the training programmes that Lantra is offering for the environmental conservation industry.
Although pesticides can be extremely useful, they have to be stored, handled and applied in the right way, or they can be dangerous to humans, wildlife and the environment.
To minimise these risks, anyone who uses pesticides as part of their job is legally required to go through the proper training and be skilled in the tasks they are carrying out. They must also have a certificate of competence if they supply, store or use pesticides.
This applies to operators, contractors, employers, and self-employed people in agriculture, horticulture, amenity horticulture in places like parks and sports pitches, in forestry, in or near water and industrial herbicides.
Lantra Awards’ training courses and qualifications include: safe use of pesticides; weed wiper; knapsack sprayer, hand-held spraying near water and identification of invasive and injurious species.
The versatility and small size of ATVs, or quad bikes, means they are increasingly being used in the workplace for travel and for carrying out a range of other tasks. But used in the wrong way, they can become unstable, and even experienced riders can put themselves at risk without proper training.
It is a legal requirement for employers to provide adequate training for staff who use equipment like ATVs at work. Employers must also ensure that only those employees who have received appropriate safety training in using ATVs, attachments and towed equipment, are allowed to ride the vehicles. This also applies to those who are self-employed.
The fundamentals of driving, loading, health and safety and complying with legal requirements are covered in two Lantra awards: the Technical Award for Sit-astride ATVs, including loads and trailed equipment, and the Technical Award for Sit-in ATVs.
One of the most common items of equipment across land-based industries is the chainsaw. It is a versatile and handy tool for cutting back branches, taking down trees and woodworking. This also makes it potentially dangerous in the hands of an unskilled or careless operator, so it’s essential that those who use chainsaws at work have gone through the right training.
Lantra works with the HSE to ensure that training materials reflect current safe working practices. Its chainsaw courses are available from a basic level for occasional users and go on to specialist training for those working in forestry and arboriculture.
Find out more
For more details on the range of Lantra courses and training programmes on offer, visit www.lantra.co.uk or call 02476 696 996.