Bringing opportunity to young people in the Dales

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Logo: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Providing young people with the opportunity to live and work in their own area is vitally important.

Apprentices carrying out countryside management (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Credit: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

This is even more apparent in rural areas such as the Yorkshire Dales where historically, the younger generation has moved away looking for employment.

Several schemes are now in place to give young people a chance to take control of their futures – and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s scheme has an 85 per cent success rate in taking people from training into further education or employment.

The Clapham-based charity’s apprenticeship programme has a specific aim: To provide young local people with a potentially life-changing opportunity to gain the qualifications, experience and rural skills needed to manage the Yorkshire Dales landscape sensitively and sustainably.

Apprentice using a lopper to clear scrub (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Credit: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Its apprentices gain hands-on work experience through placements with local employers, complemented by part time college study, and specialist certificated training courses, such as chainsaw and brush cutter use, off-road driving, habitat surveying and tree planting, to name just a few.

The apprenticeships have led to many success stories over the years, with many of the young people finding themselves well placed to forge ahead on their chosen path of personal development, whether that be further education, or a fulfilling career in environmental conservation and countryside management.

YDMT’s apprentices often provide mentorship to those wanting to take the same path. Several have become Young Ambassadors with the Trust, championing rural employment opportunities, peer to peer tips, advice and environmental awareness.

Apprentices clearing wood from a river (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Credit: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

Jade Allen is a YDMT ambassador and former apprentice who has just secured a new role at National Trust. She had been working with Cumbria Wildlife Trust as a conservation officer since September 2018.

She said: “This apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to learn about the natural world, about myself as a person and what I cared about. I have made some amazing friends and have had some of the most incredible ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities I could never have dreamed possible.

“One of my biggest achievements was getting my chainsaw ticket in crosscutting and felling small trees. On day one of the course, I was faced with dismantling, maintaining, and putting back together a chainsaw, a really scary intimidating machine I had never come close to before. I survived … and on day two I had to fell and dismantle a tree. Not a chance…!

“I got the tree on to the ground but when I went to cut it off at the stump I hit a problem; my side case had come undone and my guide bar was on the floor several feet away. I called for help and my instructor came over. He quickly realised what had happened, saw the tears welling up in my eyes and gave me a hug. Everything was fine, my side casing simply hadn’t been quite tightened up enough, but in that moment, I was so shaken up and so full of self-doubt I didn’t think I could pick it up again.

“I did though, and five days later I had passed my assessment with flying colours. Though this was definitely in part thanks to my wonderful instructors, a lot of it was my determination and refusal to be beaten by my nerves and anxiety. For me this has been one of my biggest takeaways – even when things are big, scary and seem very much impossible, if you care enough, try your best and refuse to let your own self-doubt get in the way, you’re going to succeed.

Apprentice quadrat sampling (Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust)
Credit: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

“It’s not just big things like that I’ve learnt – there are the little things that can be so easily overlooked. Not so long ago I didn’t know what a chaffinch looked like or what an earth sphagnum moss was. Now, I love to spend my time watching the wildlife around me, being able to know what they’re called and where they’ve come from. I can now confidently go to a peatbog and ID most of the plant species surrounding me. It’s small things like this I often disregard, and sometimes completely forget about, when I’m low in confidence and doubting my abilities.

“None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for my apprenticeship. Without it there’s a very good chance I would still be stuck in a job I didn’t want to be in, working all hours under the sun and not feeling fulfilled.”

She continued: “I found school hard. I tried hard and got good grades but was never an over-achiever who stood out and got extra attention or praise. Equally, as I never needed extra help to get my grades up, I was not given the added guidance some students get. I didn’t want to go to university after completing my A levels too. I’d seemed to have had nothing but bad luck throughout school and I was fed up with the education system. As many schools are so focused on results and university acceptance letters, I felt a little lost. Now I am exceeding my own expectations and enjoying work for the first time.

“I am so grateful for the opportunities YDMT provide for young adults like myself. I believe everyone should be given a chance not just those at either end of the academic spectrum. For many apprenticeship schemes I would have been disregarded as a candidate as my grades and age would have discounted me.

“YDMT find people who really care about the natural world and give them a chance. If they think they can help you then they will try their hardest to help you progress.”

The Future

YDMT is currently recruiting for Environmental Apprentices and one Woodland Trainee to work with employers such as Cumbria Wildlife Trust (Kendal), DTMS (contractors – Fellbeck near Pateley Bridge), Dinsdale Moorland Specialists (Wigglesworth, near Settle) and Moor and Valley Ltd (Nidderdale).

For more information check out the details here, please contact Jo Boulter at Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust: tel: 015242 51002


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