The Countryside Alliance has secured an underkeeper apprenticeship that will benefit the trainee, the employer and the shooting industry

A new apprenticeship scheme for underkeepers has been given the green light. Unveiling details of the scheme, Adrian Blackmore, director of shooting for the Countryside Alliance, said: “We seized the opportunity in 2016 to support estates in developing a gamekeeper standard, when it was announced that the existing courses would cease in 2020.

“The Government is committed to reforming how apprenticeships are delivered, with employers now specifying the standards that would make an apprentice valuable to them. Working with estates across the country we have helped them create an apprenticeship that will benefit both the apprentice, the employer, the shooting industry and, ultimately, the countryside and rural economy as a whole.”

Underkeeper apprenticeships scheme

The scheme requires apprentices to undertake and show they are competent in a wide range of different gamekeeping tasks. These vary from shooting accurately and safely with a rifle to cutting up trees and using a tractor’s PTO (power take-off) and three-point linkage. Apprentices are expected to take around 18 months to complete the course.

Liam Bell, chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, backed the apprenticeship. “Training courses and qualifications are continually evolving, and it is only right that the new agreed standards for the underkeeper apprenticeships have been led by people from within the game-shooting sector,” he said. “I have had a look at the new standards and I am very impressed. Well done the Countryside Alliance.”

The Government has been keen to encourage employers to take on apprentices, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announcing that it will provide a grant to any employer taking on an apprentice aged between 16 and 25. Government figures show that more than 90% of young apprentices remain in work or training after their apprenticeship ends.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “The new high-quality underkeeper standard will give apprentices the skills they need to play a key role in conservation as well as all the tools to manage a healthy habitat, becoming its custodians.”

Financial support

The underkeeper apprenticeships will 
also be eligible for financial support with up 
to £7,000 available for each place.