Birds, beasts and the British countryside
Working in the land-based industries can mean being out in the fields growing our crops, but there are lots of other roles too. The sector employs people to look after our animals, maintain our machinery and generally keep the land looking green and pleasant, as well as researching new ways to produce food or conserve and protect the environment.
Types of Apprenticeship
There are new Apprenticeship Standards being developed for this sector all the time. They include Arborist (a tree specialist), Animal Trainer, Golf Greenkeeper, Farrier, Veterinary Nurse and Horticulture and Landscape Supervisor.
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; taking steps to conserve the UK’s open spaces for future generations.
What can I do?
In brief: a lot. Crop technicians might work in the open fields using huge, sophisticated machines to plant and harvest crops, as well as tending to the soil. Meanwhile, a Forest Operative will look after woodland in a job that’s part art, part science, and all tree. As an agricultural engineer, you might be tending to tractors; 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 as an arborist, which is a job focused on carefully managing the trees that we live alongside in towns, villages and parks throughout the country.
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:
- Animal trainer
- Sports turf operative
- Equine Groom
- Forest operative
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 some of 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:
Level two/Intermediate – equivalent to GCSEs/Standard Grades
Level three/Advanced – equivalent to A Levels/Highers
Level four and above/Higher – equivalent to Foundation Degrees or Bachelors Degrees
Your training will last between one and four years depending on the programme. 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 well-being, 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 equine grooms
New to these roles? 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. Similarly, we’ve shared our lives with horses for 4000 years and the deal seems to be that in return for letting us sit on them, we agree to feed, house, brush, and generally tidy up after them. There are a million horses stabled in the UK, so they need plenty of skilled Equine Grooms – horse specialists – to make sure they’re looked after.
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.