What is the Scheme All About?
It is a scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund from 2014 to 2017 to provide people of any age or background, from anywhere in the world the opportunity to gain paid full time, real world experience for a full year (or 18 months in the case of Survey and Monitoring Trainees) at four Wildlife Trusts in the South West.
Why was it Funded?
Why is this necessary? Well, within a sector so frequently oversubscribed the recruiters were increasingly finding they were being heavily oversubscribed with applications, but only a small proportion of these applicants actually had the necessary skills needed to fulfil the role. This scheme aims to solve the skill gap by providing relevant and specific training to us trainees free of cost, particularly useful when something like the Chainsaw and Brushcutting course which all Conservation Trainees will take, can cost several hundreds of pounds which is a huge financial strain for anyone wishing to get into the industry and who may not be working full time. All of this free training and experience will (hopefully) lead us to secure permanent employment within the conservation sector, after the year has ended and for the foreseeable future.
The scheme is running across four Wildlife Trusts - Dorset, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire, with each Trust taking on four trainees a year for three years. The details and numbers of trainees per role vary slightly, but there are broadly three different roles:
Community and Volunteer Engagement working with schools, families, community groups and volunteers by assisting teaching and project managing events. Whilst also learning to recruit new volunteers, and use both online and print platforms to spread and promote events and help manage volunteers.
Practical Conservation maintaining sites, developing and implementing site management plans and working with volunteers and the public.
- Survey and Monitoring an 18 month placement to ensure a full summer season working with volunteers to record and identify species and habitats to input onto databases and produce reports and presentations on the findings.
In Somerset Wildlife Trust there are two Practical Conservation Trainees Beth Aucott and Olivia Dullaghan, one Survey and Monitoring Trainee Chris Couldrey, and one Community and Volunteer Engagement me, Claire Critchley.
We’ll be continuing to update this section of the website with regular round ups about what we’ve seen, learnt and done during the scheme. So keep your eyes peeled here on the website, Facebook and Twitter.
L to R Claire, Olivia and Beth in their new work essentials
Photo Credit Beth Aucott