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Forestry Apprenticeship: Your questions answered

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Careers, Our Staff, Woodland management

A headshot of Gareth Hopkins

Gareth is the Forestry Commission's Programme Manager for the Forestry Apprenticeship, jointly led with the University of Cumbria and Institute of Chartered Foresters.

Please be aware that applications for joining the Forestry Apprenticeship in September 2023 have now closed.

During National Apprenticeship Week (6 to 12 February), we held a live #AskAnApprentice Twitter Q&A to give you the opportunity to ask myself and our panel of experts (below) about our Forestry Apprenticeship.

We had 18 questions during the two-hour session and have captured many of them here, along with the answers, to help anyone who is considering applying, and those who are currently completing their applications.

Remember, the submission deadline is 23.55 on Sunday 26 February.  Successful applicants will start in September 2023.

Let's start with a question that came through on our blog... Can you apply for this if you already have a degree? (if someone was looking for a career change.)

I have a university degree, but applied because I wanted a complete career change. It's an amazing way to enter a career in Forestry. You don't need lots of prior knowledge, but will gain an excellent understanding of the sector through the 3 years of the apprenticeship - Charlie

I graduated from uni in 2004 and spent 15 years working in the railway industry before joining the programme. Having a range of transferable skills from both experiences has helped me settle into the programme - Gareth B

Yes, you can apply if you already have a degree as long as your current degree is not in Forestry or a related subject. If you would like further clarification then please email - Gareth H

How did applicants find the interview and assessment day process? Was there any top tips?

The assessment centre was strangely enjoyable. Everyone from the Forestry Commission wanted to support you to do the best that you could and the range of tasks meant that there was an opportunity for everyone to demonstrate their strengths - Gareth B

I found myself at ease with the interview and assessment process, I ended up really enjoying the assessment day! I was encouraged to be myself and that is the advice I would give to future applicants, be yourself and show your genuine enthusiasm for the topic - Lara

I actually loved the assessment day! It had a really good mix of different tasks in addition to the interview - my top tip would be not to worry about having loads of knowledge about Forestry, but to show that you're interested, enthusiastic, and determined to learn - Charlie

 David Moore @TheDav1dMoore · 8 Feb Replying to @ForestryComm Is there any scope for someone who may not have the required GCSE grades but has worked at a high level in their industry for the last 20 years?

It's an entry requirement for the degree-level apprenticeship that all applicants must have a level 2 in English and Maths. Functional skills level 2 courses are available and can be completed before the apprenticeship starts - Mark

Can I apply if I am currently studying a Forestry degree? Currently in 2nd year.

The ESFA funding rules for apprenticeships require analysis of prior experience and skills and the programme has to deliver "new learning".  Someone with 2 years of undergraduate study would have too much prior knowledge to qualify for the apprenticeship - Mark

I'm in the process of finalising my application and am seeking a bit of clarification. For the behaviour statement, are you looking for two 250-word statements for each behaviour or an overall 250-word statement?

We are looking for two 250 word statements, one for each of the behaviour questions. Remember to use the STAR format. Situation Task Action and Result - Gareth H

I couldn't find much on the programme description about the day-to-day work outside the teaching blocks and work placement. Could you describe what a recent day at work involved?

Work days are very varied. Yesterday Lara and I went on our first independent site visit to look at a felling licence application in an urban woodland, last week I visited a woodland creation site on an estate in Norfolk and next week will be carrying out some tariffing (measuring woodlands) for Forestry England. Our manager also helps to make sure we have enough time to do our academic work - Gareth B

Is there any transport provided for successful applicants ? I live in south east London and I can see the positions available in south east & London would be wendover and Bucks horn oak. More than happy to commute but I don’t have a vehicle of my own. Thanks !

Vehicles will be made available for all work activities such day-to-day work, travelling to sites, travelling to the university and other training events. These vehicles will not be available for private use. Travelling to and from your host office location will be at the discretion of your local area team, depending on location within your normal working area - Gareth H

What does the split of office and site work tend to look like? Is it often quite 50/50 or is it skewed more to one than the other?

Every week is varied, but in general I'd say I'm out on sites 2-3 days per week, at the office/working from home 1-2 days per week, and studying 1 day each week - Charlie

Where in the Uk can I do this apprenticeship? Are there any siyes in Mid Wales / Shropshire borders? Also is it possible to complete this without a driving licence?

The degree apprenticeship does not require a driving licence. However, most employers would require their employees to be able to travel independently to carry out their roles - Mark

Applications are open across five Forestry Commission area teams in England. You can see the list here: - Gareth H

Are there any examples of what careers people have gone into after they have completed the apprenticeship? Is there a lot of searching or is it more carrying straight through with the Forestry Commission?

We don't have examples of career progression yet as we're only in the 1st year of the 3-year programme. But there's a wide range of opportunities that would be open following successful completion, such as Woodland Officers, Beat Foresters, Estate Foresters, woodland manager, site managers...roles across the forestry sector, not just with the Forestry Commission - Gareth H

On completion of the apprenticeship, individuals have the opportunity to present for Professional Membership Entry (PME) with @TheICF. A degree-level qualification, a couple of years of practical experience and the title of Chartered Forester, the world's your oyster! - Stuart

Hi, what’s your favourite animal that you encounter during your work? And do these encounters make you more passionate about your roles?

We have a friendly otter in the river next to the office here in Santon Downham and it is always a highlight to see.  Dogs are also welcome in the office. Our resident office dog, Ash, always comes to check up on us. Bringing it back to trees though, some of the veteran trees that we encounter are truly spectacular and really do make the job special - Gareth B

I love the variety of birds I see while out and about at work. Last week I came across a curlew in some private woodland...It's great to encounter them more now that I work outside more frequently - Charlie

Minimum entry requirements are: Maths - GCSE pass at grade C or 4 and above. Minimum of 96 UCAS points - these can be made up in several ways. Applications can be made by individuals who do not hold the required UCAS points with applicants demonstrating associated skills at the same or a higher level obtained outside academic study, such as work experience. Applications made in this way will require individual evaluations by the University administration team before enrolment onto the programme - Gareth H

It’s up to 9 months of work experience to help embed learning. We are still working on those opportunities but they will be from across the forestry sector - Gareth H

My son wants to do this course. Is there anything he can do whilst studying his A levels to aid him to secure his place on this course?

I volunteered for 8 months with the National Trust, where I had the chance to understand land management from a practical point of view as well as some of the administrative procedures that are involved in land management such as woodland management plans - Lara

I volunteered with Conservation Volunteers, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and at tree-planting events on my city council's Woodland Creation Scheme before applying. While such experience is not essential for applying for the role, I think showing interest and engagement through volunteering in related areas is beneficial - Charlie

When I first decided to make a career change I had little experience in forestry or the environment sector, so began volunteering with my local Wildlife Trust. At first this was coppicing for half a day at weekends, but then I secured a 6 month volunteer role that helped me gain practical skills and woodland management experience - Gareth B

Do you have any more information on the degree modules?

The apprenticeship contains the same modules as the non-apprenticeship undergraduate degree course but taught in a different format - 1 week of teaching roughly every 6 to 8 weeks either at Cumbria or Cannock Chase with online tutorials and self-directed study occurring in the weeks between teaching. There is no summer break! Our final modules of 1st and 2nd Year run in July & August - Mark

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  1. Comment by Rosana posted on

    Is it possible to apply to different locations? Like for example to London and to the North West Midlands?

  2. Comment by Rachel posted on

    Hello. Could you tell me exactly what date in September the course would start please? Is it the 1st? I only ask as I have been offered a temp summer position elsewhere but have also applied for this apprenticeship role and want to be clear about timings. Many thanks

    • Replies to Rachel>

      Comment by wendyjohnson posted on

      Thanks for your question. Successful applicants will start with the Forestry Commission on 29 August, (there can be some flexibility with this date). They will then start the apprenticeship on 6 September (this date is not negotiable). We hope this helps.