Out here in the fields…
Employing more than one million people and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, the UK’s land based industries play an important part not only in growing our economy, but in growing our food as well. They also look after our green and pleasant land, take care of our animals and keep all the machinery and processes needed to manage the environment ticking over nicely.
Types of Apprenticeship
As you’d expect from such a big sector, there are plenty of programmes to choose from. They include Agriculture, Animal Care, Environmental Conservation, Equine, Farriery, Fencing, Floristry, Fish Husbandry, Game Management, Horticulture, Land-based Engineering, Veterinary Nursing, Trees and Timber, and Animal Technology Apprenticeships.
About the land-based industries
The sector can be split into three broad areas:
– land management
– animal health and welfare
– environmental industries
Across those three areas there are job opportunities tending to the land and maintaining the machinery needed to farm it; looking after the animals on our farms and in our homes; and taking steps to conserve the UK’s open spaces for future generations.
What can I do?
In brief: a lot. Agriculture apprenticeships alone offer routes into farming careers of all kinds, whether that’s working on the land, raising cattle or looking after game. As an agricultural engineer you might be tending to tractors, harvesting machinery and other giant pieces of tech; or you could work in fencing to erect and maintain the increasingly sophisticated barriers we use to protect crops and animals.
If you fancy focusing on growing things, you might enjoy working in horticulture, which is all about the plant world; or trees and timber, which is concerned as much with growing and managing woods and forests as it is cutting them down for building products and fuel.
Elsewhere there are plenty of opportunities to work with animals. That might be as a gamekeeper, where you’re looking after the land as much as the animals living on it; or as a veterinary nurse or nursing assistant, which is a varied role and could see you taking care of all creatures, great and small. Along similar lines, animal care Apprentices might be based in kennels, animal training centres and rescue homes, looking after the daily needs of dogs, cats and more.
Perhaps the main thing land-based industry Apprentices require isn’t so much a skill as a state of mind. You’ll need to be passionate about the great outdoors or the creatures that share our little island with us. This isn’t an industry for those who don’t like being outside, getting their hands dirty and getting up close and personal with the animal kingdom.
As you might expect, much of the work in this sector can be physical, requiring a fair bit of strength and stamina – putting a shoe on a horse or felling a tree isn’t easy – combined with the technical know how required to get things done safely and efficiently.
Depending on the area you go into you might need an aptitude for mechanics, or have a calm, confident way with animals. Some professions, such as conservation, will demand a good understanding of the scientific processes at work in the environment; others, like animal technology, need research skills and people with an organised approach to their work.
Or you could opt for something that requires a little creativity, such as floristry, which blends a solid knowledge of plants and flowers with an artistic eye for arranging them. Careful research will soon help you identify the areas that might suit you.
Land-based industry careers
With so many Apprentice roles available we can’t list them all, but here are some examples:
- Groundcare technician
- Forest ranger
- Zoo / animal keeper
To find out what’s available near you, visit careermap.co.uk and search for land-based industry vacancies. You can also head to lantra.co.uk, which has lots of information on the industry itself and the training programmes available.
Routes into the land-based industries include:
– Vocational qualifications / A Levels
– National Diplomas and Certificates
– Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs)
– Foundation Degrees (England and Wales only)
– Bachelors Degrees
Levels of Apprenticeship
There are generally three levels of Apprenticeship offered in these areas. The one you choose will
depend on your previous experience and qualifications:
Intermediate – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Advanced – equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Higher – equivalent to Foundation Degrees
An intermediate Apprenticeship takes two years to complete, then you can continue for another year to achieve the Advanced level. Higher Apprenticeships, for programmes including Agriculture, require additional study. If you don’t have the qualifications you need yet, a Traineeship can help fill in the gaps in your learning.
Life as a land-based Apprentice
Your day as a land-based Apprentice can start early. Very, very early, in fact: farms can come to life before dawn, with lots to do in order to feed the animals, check on their wellbeing, or get out into the crops when it’s time to sow or harvest. You might also be working long after the sun goes down and everyone else has gone home.
You can also expect to be out in all kinds of weather, so you’ll need to get hold of some decent waterproof gear. Luckily, as an Apprentice you’ll be paid for your work, so you’ll have an income to help with buying equipment.
Depending on your Apprenticeship, you could spend the day servicing a tractor, walking the paths in a forest, mending a fence, or reassuring a worried pet owner while their companion gets some vaccinations. At different times you might need to be putting your back into some heavy lifting, preparing a floral arrangement for a wedding or leading a horse trek through the countryside. You’ll need to study on top of all this too, but chances are your working day will still involve less sitting in front of a computer than most people’s.
At the end of the day you might be mentally and physically tired, and it’s definitely the case that this area isn’t for everyone. However, those that it does call to are likely to feel a lot of job satisfaction when they’re out and about, watching things grow or helping the outdoors stay great.
Farriers and fish husbands
Land-based Apprentices can train to be either of the above. Not come across those terms before? A farrier makes and fits horseshoes as well as working with vets to provide surgical services or corrective footwear (well, hoofwear) for horses. Apprenticeships have been the way into the profession for generations. Meanwhile, fish husbandry is nothing to do with marrying a mermaid: it’s the rearing of profitable fish stocks, like salmon, as well as tending to our aquatic friends in ponds and pet shops.
You could work in…
Land-based Apprentices can be found in:
- National Parks
- Veterinary Surgeries
- City Parks and Gardens
Find Apprenticeships and jobs in land-based industries near you at Careermap.co.uk