by Adrian Blackmore

Gamekeepers are one of the custodians of the countryside, and they play a crucial role in enhancing biodiversity. When we learnt in early 2016 that the framework for apprenticeships was changing, and that the one for gamekeepers would no longer exist in 2020 if the necessary action was not taken to replace it, we knew we couldn't stand by and let this happen.

It was up to individual employment groups, known as Trailblazers, to develop the new standards that showed what an apprentice would be doing, and the skills that would be required of them by a job role. We therefore sought the support of shooting estates which had either employed an apprentice in the past, or would consider employing one in the future, and asked them to work with us in developing the new Trailblazer apprenticeship standard for underkeepers. Although our initial proposal, which was to be submitted to the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, only required the support of 10 estates, we ended up with 20 coming forward; a clear indication of the importance they attached to this new apprenticeship.

The help that many of those estates subsequently gave us in developing the apprenticeship framework; determining the knowledge, skills and behaviour required of an underkeeper; the professional registrations that might be required; and those skills that apply throughout the industry, along with those that are specific either to upland or lowland keepers, was invaluable in ensuring that we ended up with an apprenticeship that is now fit for purpose. It is thanks to their help that we also have one that now delivers the highest standards. However, we didn't just want to focus on the traditional skills, we also wanted them to be more aware of social media so they can tell their important story, and the work that they do managing the countryside, in an educative and informative manner.

Our 'Underkeeper Apprenticeship' has now been approved by Government, its funding has been formally agreed, Land based colleges around the country are enthusiastic at the prospect of providing specific specialised training, and it has been published by the Institute of Apprenticeships. Had the Alliance not taken the action that it did four years ago, none of this would have happened. We look forward to following the progress of the apprenticeships when they start in September. 

Posted in

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies and how you can change your settings by reading our Cookie Policy