by Countryside Alliance

Why should a shoot take on an apprentice?

An apprentice underkeeper offers a number of benefits to a shoot.  They provide an extra pair of willing hands to assist the other keeper(s) at an affordable rate.  Surveys have shown that 78% of businesses which have taken on an apprentice have improved their productivity.

In addition, there are multiple financial incentives that go even further to minimise the, already low, cost of taking on an apprentice.  These incentives do vary depending on the size of the shoot and the age of the applicant and are detailed further below.

Finally, gamekeepers are the custodians of our countryside and these apprentices are the future advocates for shooting.  This new framework instils that responsibility in the apprentices.  By taking on an apprentice a shoot helping to shape the next generation of keepers, ensuring their suitability in an increasingly scrutinised world, and therefore helping to secure shooting’s future.

I run a shoot, how do I take on an apprentice?

You take on an apprentice as you would do any other trainee gamekeeper.  Throughout the 18 months of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will be required to spend 20% of their time on off-the-job training at one of the colleges that supports the apprenticeship.  This is for the apprentice to undertake specific training and to gain the qualifications required.

We are often approached by candidates looking for shoots offering an apprenticeship.  If you run a shoot and are considering taking on an apprentice underkeeper please email [email protected] so that we can add you to our list.

Candidates will also look at advertisements in the back of shooting magazines, such as the Shooting Times.

Is there funding available to support taking on an apprentice?

Yes.  There is a £1,000 incentive for anyone who takes on an apprentice.  In addition to this, from August 2020 to January 2021, any estate that takes on a new young apprentice aged 16 to 24 will receive a £2,000 employer incentive as part of the government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’, to kick start the economy post COVID-19, while those that take on new apprentices aged 25 and over will be paid £1,500. This means that employers could receive up to £3,000 from the government for taking on an apprentice before January 2021.  The advice on how to access this funding can be found here, and the full Government advice for taking on an apprentice can be found here.

Who pays for the training courses?

The Government has agreed funding of up to £7,000 per apprentice to enable them to undertake the college-based training and to achieve the necessary qualifications.  This reduces the financial burden on estates which would previously have had to fund these qualifications.  This funding covers all of the college-based training and the mandated qualifications. 

Where will the apprentice live?

Most shoots provide accommodation for apprentice gamekeepers due to the nature of the job. If an estate takes on apprentices for other roles, they are often allocated a room in a house share.  Some estates also find that other housed employees are happy to take on a paying lodger if other suitable accommodation is not available.

Depending on the proximity of colleges, and their timetable, overnight stays may be essential for these parts of the apprenticeship.  Most colleges have affordable accommodation, but this is charged extra and you should discuss with your apprentice about how these costs will be covered.

When will the apprentice undertake the 20% off the job training?

This depends on how the college local to you structures their course.  We would suggest asking to see your apprentice’s timetable at the earliest opportunity so that you can plan accordingly. While each college operates a different timetable, typically they may provide one week per month as off the job training for most of the 18 months, to achieve the 20% off the job training.

An apprentice can enrol in a college course by contacting the college themselves, or alternatively you can contact the college on their behalf.  This may be preferable if you are taking on multiple apprentices, to ensure their timetables correspond.  Please note that colleges do require a reasonable level of English and Maths (D/Level 3 at GCSE).  If you are uncertain about this you can ask the college to accept the candidate prior to offering them the apprenticeship.

What training is our current keepering team expected to provide?

Details of all training required by the apprentice are contained in the apprenticeship standard which can be found here. On the job training will largely be the same as that for trainee keepers that you may have taken on prior to this apprenticeship scheme.  However, there are specific areas that the apprentice will be tested on at their ‘End Point Assessment’.  The syllabus should be looked at by your keepers to ensure that all the necessary areas are covered.   Prior to the ‘End Point Assessment’ it would be helpful for the apprentice to go through these areas with one of your keepers to ensure that all areas have been covered.

In addition, parts of the course require the candidate to maintain a portfolio, such as making a record of their successful participation in shoot days.  This may require input from your team, and it should be completed by them in a timely manner.

While all the mandated ‘Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours’ will be taught in college, they should be re-enforced by your permanent keepering team.

The full syllabus can be found here.

Colleges currently offering training:

College County Contact Email
Myerscough Lancashire Andrew Parkinson [email protected]
Askham Bryan Yorkshire Jason Dakin [email protected]
Bicton Devon Simon Grundy [email protected]
Bishop Burton Yorkshire Elizabeth Bainbridge [email protected]
Sparsholt Hampshire Helen Mitchell [email protected]


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