Press release

Natural England is set to double its number of apprentices

Increased apprenticeship opportunities set to inspire more people to take up a career in the environmental sector.

Former Natural England apprentice and now Kingley Vale NNR Reserve Manager, surveying bees and butterflies on the Kingley Vale NNR © Steve Walker
Former Natural England apprentice and now Kingley Vale NNR Reserve Manager, surveying bees and butterflies on the Kingley Vale NNR © Steve Walker

Chief Executive James Cross announced the commitment during a visit to the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve today (6 July) when he also had the chance to meet current apprentices and get involved in an important restoration project.

Natural England has 18 apprentices – and this is set to double by the end of the year.

Our apprentices currently range in age from their early 20s to their mid-40s, and backgrounds include ex-forces, arboriculture and art students.

The apprentices are currently funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England. Through their 12 to 18 month journey with Natural England, they pick up essential skills as well as qualifications, such as level 2 Diplomas in environmental conservation or customer service qualifications. Of those who have completed apprenticeships this year, some have found roles with Natural England, and others at the National Trust and Lost Gardens of Heligan.

James Cross said:

I’m really pleased to announce Natural England will be doubling the apprenticeships it offers over the next few years across a broad range of roles. We’ll be building on our current success with around 35 apprenticeships each year until 2020.

I’ve seen first-hand today how our apprenticeships not only help get more people into the ecological and environmental sector, but also offer the chance to people who may not previously have had access to this type of work.

It’s been great to meet the apprentices in the inspiring location of the Humberhead Peatlands which is the largest area of raised bog wilderness in lowland Britain. The site supports an incredibly rich variety of plants and animals including the marsh harrier and the round-leaved sundew, one of the iconic plants directly connected with the bog.

James and the apprentices put in a weir on the day help ensure ideal water levels on the old peat milled fields. As well as being home to habitats and species of international importance, the site also welcomes over 30,000 visits each year, and is home to one of our newest apprentices, Claire Hayden.

Claire Hayden said:

The apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to learn on the job and work alongside experienced people in an environment that I love. Before I was on the scheme I thought the only way to get experience was through volunteering. For me it was as if everything had finally fallen into place.

Steve Walker, former Natural England apprentice and now Reserve Manager at Kingley Vale National Natural Reserve in West Sussex said:

When you think of an apprentice you’ll probably think of someone in their late teens so it may surprise you to know I started my apprenticeship with Natural England in my thirties. To say it has been life changing is no understatement, and making the decision to change my career later in life was surprisingly easy. Thankfully I gained a permanent role with Natural England soon after completing my apprenticeship.

Apprentices are a key part of securing a strong future workforce for Natural England. This announcement will help towards delivering the government’s wider aim of growing apprenticeship opportunities, which will be funded through the introduction of the apprenticeship levy from 2017.

For further details referred to in this press release see:

For more information contact: Mary Tomlinson, Senior Press Officer, Natural England. Email: mary.tomlinson@naturalengland.org.uk Telephone: 07771 834 975.

Published 6 July 2016