National Trust launches new countryside apprenticeships

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The National Trust is launching a range of new countryside apprenticeship schemes this year, which offer paid work, training and learning and are recognised across the industry.

The Trust, Europe’s largest conservation charity, has almost 250,000 hectares of land and 780 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in its care.

With over half of this having a special nature designation such as being a priority habitat, nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest, the need to give the next generation of rangers the skills and experience they need to look after these special places has never been more important.

This year, the Trust’s 125 anniversary, sees the launch of a range of new apprenticeships in countryside roles, offering formal training alongside a paid work experience to develop and grow the rangers of the future.

Lake District, near Ambleside (National Trust Images / James Dobson)
Lake District, near Ambleside (National Trust Images / James Dobson)

Ten Assistant Ranger apprenticeships will be based at locations across England including Exmoor (Devon), Clent Hills (Worcestershire), Calke Abbey (Derbyshire) and Langdale (Lake District), giving new and existing staff the opportunity to gain a Countryside Worker (Level 2) apprenticeship through paid, work-based learning and college release.

Over 650 people applied for the apprenticeships through this new scheme, which replaces the Trust’s successful Ranger Academy. The Trust is one of the first organisations in England to enrol apprentices on this new standard and is looking to develop similar opportunities in Wales and Northern Ireland, which it hopes to launch later this year.

Drystone walling (National Trust Images / John Millar)
Drystone walling (National Trust Images / John Millar)

The charity has also led on the development of a new Level 4 apprenticeship for experienced rangers. This higher-level training standard has been created in partnership with other leading conservation organisations including Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts and through consultation with the industry. Hoping to be launched at the end of May, this will offer rangers greater development opportunities and an improved career path through the organisation.

As a member of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champion Network, the National Trust is also helping to shape the development of wider apprenticeship opportunities nationally and look at how it can create new entry routes and opportunities across the charity.

Caroline Noon, the National Trust’s Apprenticeship Manager, said: “With the focus of our 125th anniversary year very much on nature and the countryside, our plan is to improve and expand the development routes we offer our teams through apprenticeships, helping to develop and grow the rangers of the future.

Wildflower borders at Polesden Lacey (National Trust Images / Mark Wigmore)
Wildflower borders at Polesden Lacey (National Trust Images / Mark Wigmore)

“I am really excited to be launching this brand-new apprenticeship programme at the Trust in Spring 2020 to develop our next generation of Assistant Rangers – it has been two years in the pipeline and involved working collaboratively both internally and with other external organisations to create an apprenticeship that is fit for purpose and a credit to the industry.”

Elsewhere, the Trust offers a range of other apprenticeships in the outdoors, including agriculture and estate management.

In London and the South East, a five-year Level 6 Rural Surveyor apprenticeship offers the opportunity to develop skills to achieve sustainable land and property management, conservation and access, leading to a degree and becoming a Chartered Surveyor.

In North Yorkshire, a Level 2 farming apprentice is working with rangers and tenant farmers to gain experience in conservation and land management as a paid, work-based route to a career in agriculture. More agricultural opportunities will be launched later in the Spring.

Garden apprenticeships are also popular, giving the opportunity to gain skills and experience with the National Trust and routes into careers in horticulture. This year more than 350 people applied for 13 apprenticeships to learn and work for the Trust in some of the most important landscape parks and gardens, ensuring they are protected for everyone to enjoy. As well as the 13 entry-level apprentices, the organisation is piloting more advanced apprenticeships to provide further career development opportunities at higher levels later this year, including the new Level 3 Horticulture Supervisor apprenticeship.

River running through Holnicote (National Trust Images / Chris Lacey)
River running through Holnicote (National Trust Images / Chris Lacey)

It’s not just all about land though. This year the Trust also welcomes its first four apprentices studying Water Environment Worker (Level 3) apprenticeships as part of Riverlands, its £10m waterways restoration project that aims to boost struggling freshwater wildlife and surrounding habitats in five key water catchment areas.

These apprentices will be studying alongside other organisations including the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust and will be based in Cumbria, Norfolk, Cheshire and Somerset, helping to improve land and water management whilst also benefiting people and wildlife within the catchment area.

Caroline Noon added: “Since our first four apprenticeships in 2016, the Trust now offers over 111 apprenticeships across a range of areas. As an organisation that is for everyone, through these apprenticeships we can help people build skills and work experience, who might not have had opportunities to do so through traditional education routes.

“Our apprentice opportunities mean that people can earn while they learn, gaining the work specific skills and a wage, and helping the National Trust to look after the nature, beauty and history in our care.”

For more information about apprenticeships with the National Trust, visit

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