Achieving employment in any job is challenging in today’s current economic climate, but when it is your dream job within the natural heritage sector, it is particularly tough.
Thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future Programme, six passionate and talented trainees from Ulster Wildlife are celebrating their success having completed a year-long paid nature skills traineeship with the local nature conservation charity.
Throughout their action packed year, the trainees gained a wide range of specialist skills and training required to help secure a future career protecting our wildlife and wild places, from laying hedges and controlling invasive species to monitoring coastal habitats.
The trainees also learnt to survey local wildlife from dolphins and birds to butterflies, and helped to inspire people of all ages about nature on their doorstep, from leading nature walks and education workshops within schools, to delivering several well attended snorkel safaris throughout the summer months.
As well as receiving training and mentoring in-house, the trainees undertook certified training courses, workshops with leading nature experts and for some lucky marine trainees, the opportunity to work aboard the AFBI Corystes research vessel. In between this very busy work schedule, trainees worked to achieve a new Lantra accreditation in Natural Heritage Skills.
Four of the trainees have now successfully moved straight into paid employment within the environment sector having gained the much sought after hands-on work experience that employers look for.
“The training I received with Ulster Wildlife was vital in securing a permanent job,” said Danielle Shortall from Craigavon.
“Before the traineeship I struggled to find employment. I have gained a lot of practical knowledge and new skills such as wildlife ID and habitat management and thanks to the traineeship, I am more passionate than ever about pursuing a career in nature conservation.”
Celebrating their success Angela Lavin, Heritage Lottery Fund representative said: “The Skills for the Future grant programme has helped address the need for flexible on-site training schemes and obtaining relevant natural heritage training qualifications.
“It is thanks to National Lottery players that we can run grant programmes such as this and our funding has significantly helped in providing up skilling training in the field of natural heritage. We are delighted to congratulate those who trained with Ulster Wildlife and received their awards.”
Ulster Wildlife’s Nature Skills traineeship is now in its final year. Over the last three years, over 700 applications were received for 18 highly sought-after places, with two thirds of trainees gaining paid employment within the environment sector upon completion.
For more information, or to follow the journey of this year’s trainees, visit www.ulsterwildlife.org/nature-skills