UP to 45 apprenticeships will be created in forestry in a bid to encourage more people into the industry and plug the sector's skills shortage. 

The newly launched Development Woodland Officer programme will aim to grow, upskill, and diversify the sector's workforce, offering on-the-job training and the chance to gain Chartered Forester status. 

Marking the first time that a degree-level forestry apprenticeship has been offered in the UK, the scheme is jointly led by the Forestry Commission, the University of Cumbria and the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF). 

READ MORE: EGGER (UK)'s Tom Coates on ICF's forestry recruitment drive

FC chief executive, Richard Stanford, said: “This new programme offers a new and exciting career pathway into the forestry sector for people from all backgrounds and abilities. 

“We are looking for ambitious, driven individuals who are eager to support our ambitious tree planting plans and ensure our precious woods and forests continue to flourish for generations to come.”

Development Woodland Officers will benefit from academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria, practical experience in FC area teams across England, and nine months of wider sector placements to further build their skills and experience, enhancing future employment prospects.  

Forestry Journal: Richard StanfordRichard Stanford

Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a Professional Forester BSc (Hons) and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters.

The ICF has previously described the skills shortage situation as “the most pressing issue of our time – perhaps even in the institute’s 100-year history”, estimating that in order to deliver on its commitments, the sector will need to fill around 10,000 extra jobs over the next few years.

READ MORE: Forestry workforce faces shortfall to fill 10,000 jobs

Executive Director, ICF, Shireen Chambers MBE FICFor, said: “The Institute has been part of the developing Trailblazer group since its inception, and we are delighted to see the launch of this exciting degree apprenticeship in forestry. 

"We hope this will inspire a new generation of forestry professionals and encourage those already in the industry who want to learn while working, providing much needed new skills into our growing sector.”  

Recruitment will open in spring 2022. For more information, please email: DWOenquiries@forestrycommission.gov.uk