Outdoors: Ulster Wildlife scheme sets budding nature lovers up for careers in conservation

Trainees will learn how to engage the public and the next generation with nature
Andrea McKernon

TWENTY-ONE budding nature lovers are set to get the skills and training to pursue a career in nature conservation, thanks to a new three-year programme funded by Heritage Lottery.

The programme, delivered by Ulster Wildlife, will receive over £400,000 in lottery funding to provide the paid placements, prioritising young people under 24, and those from ethnic minority groups or people with a disability wishing to work in the field of conservation.

One-year part-time traineeships, as well as full-time will also be available starting in March 2018. The project is one of 18 across the north and in Britain, helping to address critical shortages in specific heritage skills and widen the heritage talent pool.

Participants will receive a combination of skills and knowledge training – marine and land-based – guaranteed on-the-job work experience, and a customised entry level Lantra accredited course. They will work with a number of organisations including the National Trust and Butterfly Conservation. The project aims to build on the success of the charity's existing nature skills traineeship, also funded by the Heritage Lottery's skills for the future programme, which is now in its final year.

Dawn Miskelly of 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.”

Sir Peter Luff, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), said: “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.”

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