The programme, delivered by Ulster Wildlife, will receive over £400,000 in National Lottery funding to provide twenty-one paid training placements, prioritising young people under the age of 24, from ethnic minority groups or those with a disability. One-year part-time traineeships, as well as full-time, will also be available starting in March 2018.
Throughout their action-packed year, participants will receive a unique combination of skills and knowledge training, both marine and land-based, guaranteed on-the-job work experience, and a customised entry-level Lantra accredited course. They will also have the opportunity to work in partnership with a number of other organisations including the National Trust and Butterfly Conservation.
This innovative project aims to build on the success of the charity’s existing Nature Skills Traineeship, also funded by HLF’s Skills for the Future programme, which is now in its final year. During the last three years, over 700 applications were received for 18 full-time traineeships, with two-thirds of trainees gaining paid employment within the environment sector upon completion.
Dawn Miskelly, Operations Director from Ulster Wildlife said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting this fantastic project.
This investment will enable us to offer more people, struggling to get their foot on the conservation ladder, paid training and high-quality work experience with experts, which will set them up for the best possible career in natural heritage.
This level of training provision is not currently available in Northern Ireland and will help to bridge the skills gap in the sector and reach out to a more diverse generation of people wishing to embrace a future wild career.”
The project is one of 18 across the UK which will help to address critical shortages in specific heritage skills and widen the heritage talent pool.
Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), said: “There is no quick fix to this problem. The heritage sector has been slow in widening the profile of its workforce and as a consequence is on a long-term learning curve.
“We wanted to build on the legacy of our existing targeted skills funding – £47m to date – and make a further financial commitment of just over £10m. Why? Because we know the Skills for the Future programme can drive successful and lasting change. It’s simple yet highly effective: trainees paired with experts gain access to knowledge plus practical, paid, on-the-job experience.”