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Land-based jobs are a true vocation and should be valued

This week was National Careers Week in Scotland and it was heartening to hear that Scotland's rural colleges have been inundated with applications for their gamekeeping and wildlife management course.

Land-based jobs have a really important role to play in the future of our countryside not only in landscape management, creation, and enhancing biodiversity but also for the contribution they make to the local economy and creating sustainable communities.

The Countryside Alliance has long recognised that gamekeepers are one of the custodians of the countryside, and they play a crucial role in managing and enhancing it. This is why back in 2016 when we learned 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. We worked alongside employers to create a standard that ensured those apprentices employed by estates would have the skills and behaviour required of an underkeeper; the professional registrations that might be required; and those skills that apply throughout the industry. However, we didn't just want to focus on the traditional skills, we also wanted them to become ambassadors of the countryside, understand social media so they can tell their important stories, and the work that they do managing the countryside, in an educative and informative manner.

It is with this experience and background of developing the Underkeeper Standard that we have been invited to contribute to the Habitat Management T level. T levels are a technical qualification in England developed in collaboration with employers and businesses. Speaking with the Department of Education we have ensured that certain aspects of the Underkeeper Standard are incorporated into the Habitat Management T Level. We recognise this is an important qualification for those looking to work in landscape management and is a potential introduction to the career of gamekeeping.

Land-based jobs are ever changing and there is a need to keep up with new legislation and conservation practices. This is why the Countryside Alliance is 100% committed to ensuring that land-based jobs are recognised for the important role they play in the countryside and are truly valued as a vocation.

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