The Countryside Alliance is securing the future of gamekeeping by working to develop an apprenticeship for new underkeepers. Our proposal for a new qualification has been approved by the Department of Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) and we are setting up a “trailblazer” group to work with other organisations and employers to develop the course.

The Alliance acted after learning the current system of apprenticeships will end in 2020, with no guarantee that gamekeeping programmes will be part of the new system of qualifications.


Countryside Alliance head of shooting campaigns Liam Stokes, a former lecturer in gamekeeping, said: “I am delighted BIS has accepted our proposal for an underkeeper’s qualification. It is vital for the future of shooting that we have a high quality apprenticeship to help young people get their start.

“Having worked in gamekeepers’ education I know how frustrated many employers are with the current system, which was written by colleges and awarding bodies and inflicts some odd requirements on estates trying to do right by their new keepers.

“Getting involved in this trailblazer group is a way for employers to ensure that the new apprenticeship reflects the skills they want their gamekeepers to have. There are some really exciting opportunities to direct funding towards the training we feel trainees really need. We look forward to people from across the world of shooting having their say in how this programme should look.”


Tony Rolfe, National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) committee member for education added: “The approval of a new apprenticeship for underkeepers is a really important development.

“The NGO is looking forward to joining the trailblazer group and creating a qualification suited to keepering in the 21st century.”

The Countryside Alliance’s proposal was supported by 20 shooting estates from across the country, representing shoots of all sizes and varieties.


Richard Johnson, director of Wemmergill Moor Limited, said: “Wemmergill is delighted to be part of the Countryside Alliance’s proposal to develop apprenticeship standards in the gamekeeping sector which has been approved by the Minister of State for Skills.

“Gamekeeping rewards anyone with a passion for conservation and the countryside and the apprenticeship standards will provide an excellent opportunity for ambitious individuals to develop appropriate skills.”


We are now calling on anyone who would like to join the underkeeper’s trailblazer group and support the development of this crucial qualification to get in touch. If your shoot or organisation would like to be involved email [email protected]