New funding for more trainee positions

Monday 13th March 2017

David & Emily trainees make a dry stone wall in Somerset - Rachel JanesDavid & Emily trainees make a dry stone wall in Somerset - Rachel Janes

Conservationists in the south-west are on the path to success with a new training project.

Five Wildlife Trusts working in partnership in the South West have been awarded funding by the National Lottery to develop the ‘Wild Paths’ project which is designed to train and recruit new people into the conservation sector.

This funding has been made available through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Skills for the Future programme which helps organisations deliver paid training placements to meet skills shortages in the heritage sector and help diversify the workforce.

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “There is no quick fix to this problem. The heritage sector has been slow in widening the profile of its work force and as a consequence is on a long-term learning curve. We wanted to build on the legacy of our existing targeted skills funding – £47m to date – and make a further financial commitment of just over £10m. Why? Because we know the Skills for the Future programme can drive successful and lasting change. It’s simple yet highly effective: trainees paired with experts gain access to knowledge plus practical, paid, on-the-job experience.”

The development funding of £7,000 will allow Dorset Wildlife Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Avon Wildlife Trust to apply for a further £500,000 to recruit 30 trainees to start their journey on the Wild Paths project. Previous partnership working between these regional Wildlife Trusts has seen the successful delivery of a similar project, and we’re pleased to welcome Avon Wildlife Trust into the partnership for Wild Paths.

Trainees will gain practical skills such as chainsaw qualifications and cattle handling, and will also be trained to inspire and enable communities to value and protect their natural heritage into the future.

Project lead, Brian Bleese, from Dorset Wildlife Trust said, “The awarding of development funding for ‘Wild Paths’ is a real vote of confidence in the partnerships’ ability to deliver high quality training opportunities for a new generation of conservation professionals. ‘Wild Paths’ will enable us to bring new talent and diversity to the natural heritage sector in the South West.”

Devon Wildlife Trust's Volunteer Officer, Dawn Lenn, said, "As part of Wildlife Skills, we’ve seen huge personal and professional development in our trainees, and are immensely proud of them. Wild Paths will enable us to build on this experience, and to discover talented people who might otherwise never have had the chance to develop their skills and work in conservation. I love that we’ll be able to broaden the range of people in involved in the conservation work force."  

The Wildlife Trusts Director of Regional Programmes, Simon Brenman said, “We’re really pleased to be awarded this first stage of funding for Wild Paths. The project will enable 30 more people to start a professional career in conservation over the next three years. The next step is to create a full project plan, focusing on developing our recruitment strategy to ensure more people from all backgrounds can apply.”