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Looking for a way to upskill or progress in your career or train new or upskill your employees? Then the new Level 4 Countryside Ranger Apprenticeship could be for you!

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Apprenticeships are an exciting option for people of all ages, backgrounds and experience to get on and off the job training and hands-on experience.

National Trust staff talking to volunteers before beginning work on Brean Down, North Somerset ©National Trust Images/James Dobson
National Trust staff talking to volunteers before beginning work on Brean Down, North Somerset ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

This new level 4 qualification will help individuals wanting to progress within the countryside management profession and employers looking to hire someone new or upskill existing employees. Once complete, apprentices will be qualified in roles such as countryside, community or recreation rangers, reserve or countryside wardens, estate supervisor or estate or park rangers.

Recently, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education approved the Level 4 (L4) Countryside Ranger Apprenticeship for delivery. Employers from across the industry designed and developed the new standard, as part of the Countryside Ranger Trailblazer group.

Arable plant survey at Pentire Farm, North Cornwall ©National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott
Arable plant survey at Pentire Farm, North Cornwall ©National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Demelza Hyde, Chair of the L4 Countryside Ranger Trailblazer Group and Ranger, National Trust on Dartmoor, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for people with some prior knowledge and experience to gain a qualification, additional knowledge and skills to help progress their career in countryside management. Our new standard has been developed over the last 20 months by specialists from our industry. It is tailored to the specifics of a ‘Ranger’ job role and more in-line with employers’ needs.”

The new suite of apprenticeship standards being approved in England are part of the government’s 2020 vision to make apprenticeships more attractive to employers and provide improved on-the-job learning. They are paid positions and funded from contributions by the government and employers. This apprenticeship is open to people of all ages and academic backgrounds who have some prior experience and knowledge gained from working in the countryside management industry either in a paid or voluntary capacity.

This apprenticeship is suitable for -

  • existing staff employed in entry level roles who wish to progress in their career
  • people who have gained some experience seeking to gain a paid role and career in countryside management at this level
  • apprentices who have completed the new L2 Countryside Worker standard or a previous level 2 Environmental Conservation Apprenticeship framework following a few years’ experience
  • students have completed a level 2 countryside management or another relevant course

The apprenticeship standard describes the specific ‘knowledge, skills and behaviours’ (KSBs) needed to be competent in a typical ‘Countryside Ranger’s’ duties. They are designed to support and guide an apprentice through their work-based learning journey and complemented by off the job training designed to widen industry experience. To successfully complete and be awarded an Apprenticeship certificate, which proves someone has achieved occupational competence, an apprentice must complete an End-Point Assessment (EPA).

It typically takes 26 months to gain competence in all the KSB’s and then up to 6 months to complete the EPA. The standard covers all the knowledge and skills needed for the daily management, maintenance, conservation and protection of the natural environment and to inspire people about the natural environment and encourage them to engage with their local green spaces.

An outdoor toddler and pre-school group 'Box Hill Bugs' ©National Trust Images/James Dobson
An outdoor toddler and pre-school group 'Box Hill Bugs' ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

This includes organising, supervising and delivering land management, conservation and community engagement tasks, short and medium term work programmes and small scale projects; interacting and working collaboratively with organisations, community groups and members of the public; conducting surveys and monitoring wildlife, people and assets; planning, delivering high quality environmental interpretation and education. It also includes responding to events that impact upon the natural environment, assets or people; complying with various legislation; implementing environmental good practice and accountable for resources.

Jonathan Mitchell, Deputy Director for Standards Development, Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education said “The protection of our natural environment is absolutely crucial work and the new Countryside Ranger Apprenticeship gives people a great opportunity to work in England’s beautiful countryside. This apprenticeship has grown out of the hard work and dedication of a committed group of employers, who have put their time into making this a reality even in these uncertain and challenging times. The Countryside Ranger Apprenticeship will be particularly exciting news for countryside workers, giving a clear route for progression and a chance to build a career inspiring people to look after our green spaces.”

Rangers and volunteers helping to clear pathway drainage on the fells above  Grasmere, Cumbria ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris
Rangers and volunteers helping to clear pathway drainage on the fells above Grasmere, Cumbria ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris

In February 2019 our Trailblazer (employer-led) Group, made of employers, training providers, awarding and professional bodies was set up to develop this new standard. These standards replace the old frameworks which have been discontinued in England. A number of employers have been involved but the current members are: National Trust, Canal and River Trust, RSPB, Natural England, England’s National Park Authorities, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Dorset Council, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Countryside Management Association, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, Lantra, Bridgewater & Taunton College and Warwickshire College Group. The breadth of organisations involved and consulted has resulted in a versatile apprenticeship suitable for a wide range of employers, regardless of size. This will help boost the skills of the workforce, help improve economic growth and productivity.

The National Trust’s Head of Countryside Management and Rangers, Rob Rhodes said “I am really excited that the Level 4 Countryside Ranger Apprentice standard is ready for delivery. The new apprenticeship is a great opportunity for us to offer a consistent training package to all our rangers. It is ideal for those individuals who have come into rangering via volunteering and haven’t got a formal qualification in countryside management, or for those rangers who want to progress their career or simply improve their knowledge. We will be offering the apprenticeship to existing staff and I anticipate a lot of interest in this exciting opportunity.”

This apprenticeship will produce well trained, skilled employees who can add significant value and help countryside management organisations in any setting to thrive as well as benefiting individuals wanting to progress a career within the industry.

You can find out more information about this and other apprenticeships, by visiting www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards. If you’re looking to find an apprenticeship visit www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship or if you are an employer interested in taking on an apprentice should visit www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice.

Demelza Hyde

Chair, L4 Countryside Ranger Trailblazer and National Trust Ranger, NW Dartmoor

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