Success for Fife forestry apprentices

An innovative 16-month training scheme in Fife has ended in success with five new Modern Apprentices in forestry completing the programme and going on to work elsewhere.

The Fife Forestry Shared Apprenticeship Scheme was set up by Rural Skills Scotland Ltd., a not-for-profit rural training company based in Lochgelly, to test new ways of delivering apprenticeships across the land-based sector.

The pilot scheme was funded by Forestry Commission Scotland, Fife Council’s Job Contract and Our Bright Future through the Big Lottery Fund, with additional support from Lantra Scotland. 

It was established in response to concerns from the industry about an ageing workforce and shortage of new entrants, as well as the ability of small forestry businesses to employ new staff and provide enough work to keep them busy. It also aimed to address concerns that some small businesses have about the process of employing Modern Apprentices.

The youngsters were employed directly by Rural Skills Scotland Ltd., given initial certified training and then spent the majority of their time on placements with local organisations, including Fife Council, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, Falkland Estate, CLEAR Buckhaven, Treeline Scotland and Wemyss Estate.

Three of the Apprentices are now working for Fife Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Team, one is with Stirling Council and another is about to start a college course.

Stewart Christie, Director with Rural Skills Scotland, commented that “For us this pilot has been about proving that the concept of the shared apprenticeship as an alternative way of delivering apprenticeships works. We have learned a lot and tweaked the scheme as it progressed but we can confidently say the programme has delivered on its aims of getting young people into jobs in the land-based sector. It has been well received by apprentices and placement providers alike and we are keen to secure funding to roll the model out across the country.”