Back in November 2013 we launched the Dales Rural Trainee Scheme, offering a group of young people aged 18-24 a life-changing opportunity: the chance to learn how to help look after the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.
Now 12 months on, the apprentices are half way through the two year scheme and are gaining lots of brilliant experience working for a local business or organisation and learning new skills that will benefit them and the countryside.
The two-year programme combines hands-on work placements with a complementary Level 2 Diploma in either environmental conservation, forestry, horticulture, game keeping or butchery through part-time attendance at Craven College, Askham Bryan or Newton Rigg.
Here’s a quick look at the progress of one of the trainees – Arkady Bogg-Hargroves who took up an environmental conservation apprenticeship placement with Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA). He joined the scheme after completing a BTEC in joinery at Craven College in Skipton, and he hasn’t looked back.
“I finished the joinery course and then spent a long time trying to find a job,” the 20-year-old said. “Then my mum’s friend showed me an advert for the Trainee Scheme – she knew I wanted to work outside and do practical things.
“There were a lot of different apprenticeships but I took the National Park Authority one because it involved more woodworking. It has always appealed to me going out and making larger things like gates but I thought it was impossible to get that sort of work and I didn’t know how to go about it.
“Now I’m learning all sorts of things from using machinery like strimmers and chainsaws to footpath maintenance.
“I’ve always liked the outdoors but I never thought about doing environmental work – and I’m enjoying it loads.”
Arkady was invited to help supervise members of the Young Rangers group, which was formed by the YDNPA to encourage young people aged from 11 to 16 who have an interest in the outdoors by teaching them new skills.
“Originally it was a one off thing but I really liked it so I asked if I could do it every month,” he said. “It’s something else I never thought I would do or enjoy.
“Most of my friends work but they don’t enjoy it as much as I do. I feel very lucky to have got a place. It’s giving me so many skills and will potentially open so many doors for me for the future but, hopefully, when the scheme finishes, I will get a job with the National Park.”
Alan Hulme, the YDNPA’s Head of Ranger Services, said: “Opportunities for young people in the Yorkshire Dales can be limited, so it’s a real pleasure for the National Park Authority to be part of the new scheme. It brings a range of different employers together under one umbrella to provide real working experience and opportunities for our young people across the Dales and I can only see it going from strength to strength.”
The Dales Rural Trainee Scheme is made possible thanks to generous financial support from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Charles and Elsie Sykes Trust, The J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, Lord Swinton’s Charitable Trust, Yorkshire Agricultural Society and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.