Are you interested in learning new skills as a Countryside Worker Apprentice?

Frequently Asked Questions for Countryside Worker Apprentices

Who will I be working for?

  • The South West Peak Landscape Partnership is funded by the Heritage Lottery fund. The Peak District National Park Authority is the lead partner. They will be your employer and provide a supervisor / line manager. The practical work will be for a variety of the partners including:

  • Peak District National Park Authority
  • Cheshire Wildlife Trust
  • RSPB
  • Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Natural England
  • Environment Agency
  • United Utilities
  • In addition you are likely to spend time working with other organisations like the National Trust.

Where will I be working?

  • Most of your work will be in the South West Peak, a rural area between Disley, Macclesfield, Leek and Buxton.
  • You will be based at Marsh Farm , Meerbrook near Leek.

What work will I be doing?

  • The work may be any practical outdoor work that is needed in the area, for example:
    • tree planting, coppicing, tree felling
    • hedge laying, fencing, drystone walling
    • vegetation clearance
    • footpath maintenance
    • surveying, grassland restoration
    • building ‘leaky dams’ to help reduce flooding

Can I work part time?

  • No. Unfortunately due to the transport and training considerations these posts are only open for full time workers.

How long will it take?

  • The apprenticeship will last for 18 months, we expect you to commit to the full period.

How much will I get paid?

  • The minimum payment will be £3.90 per hour for 16 to 18 year olds and anyone in the

1st year of their apprenticeship.

  • After the first year of employment apprentices age 19 or over are entitled to receive the national minimum wage.
  • The current national minimum wages are below.


25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18


April 2019






Why are the wages low?

  • An apprenticeship is a job with training.
  • There is 20% off the job training.
  • Colleges no longer give Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and if you are eligible for a bursary this would only be approximately £25 per week.
  • An apprentice will earn from £144 per week.
  • You will earn a lot more on an apprenticeship than at college.
  • The wage is initially lower than minimum wage because of the amount of money spent on your training and the amount of supervision required for apprentices.

What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?

  • An apprenticeship gives you work experience as well as knowledge. Many employers regard work experience as more important than qualifications.
  • You will gain a qualification in a specific work related subject.
  • You can practice what you learn and gain confidence and competence at work.
  • Unlike a college you will get a wage and work related certificates.

What holidays will I get?

  • You are entitled to 25 days a year plus bank holidays. Holidays will need to be discussed and booked with your employer.

What hours will I work?

  • You will be working 37 hours a week. This will be mostly 7 hours 25 mins a day Monday to Friday. There may be occasional evening and weekend training or work.

What qualifications do I need to start?

  • No formal qualifications are necessary but,
  • you will need to be willing to learn in both classroom and outdoor sites,
  • have an interest in the natural environment,
  • be willing to work outdoors in all weathers
  • be reasonably fit to be able to use tools and get to work sites.
  • be capable of achieving at least level 1 functional skills English and Maths.
  • have the motivation to complete all aspects of the apprenticeship.

Where will the training taking place?

  • Much of the training will take place locally in your place of work
  • For specific courses such as NPTC training you may need to travel to other locations.
  • An office space with computer facilities will be available for group sessions or to complete college work.
  • Occasionally training for short NPTC courses may take place away from the South West Peak. If this is too far to travel each day the South West Peak Partnership will pay for basic accommodation.

When will I go for training?

  • You will need to spend an average of 1 day per week training. This can be training that is done by the SWP partners, day release for a number of weeks to a college or attending training for an NPTC certificate.

What modules will I study?

  • For each apprenticeship there are mandatory units and optional units
  • For the diploma in work based environmental conservation level 2 the mandatory units include health and safety, communication and effective working relationships.
  • The optional units will be decided between the SWP, the training provider and the apprentice. These may include modules on:
    • field surveys
    • footpath work
    • woodland management
    • drystone walling
    • clearing vegetation
    • using hand and power tools
    • fencing

What qualifications will I gain?

  • Apprentices will work towards
  • a Level 2 Diploma in work-based environmental conservation, OR, Level 2 Countryside Worker Standard. (The apprenticeship is currently undergoing revision and the title and methods of assessment may change)
  • NPTC awards, for example, chainsaw maintenance and felling, brush-cutting, spraying, tractor driving or all-terrain vehicle.
  • If you do not already have a level 2 maths and English qualification you will also need to work towards these qualifications and pass at least Level 1 English and Maths.

Will I get access to a pension scheme?

  • Yes you will have access to the local government pension scheme.

Can I get help with transport?

  • Transport issues will be considered on an individual basis.
  • The apprentice will be expected to pay for transport to work and college but help may be provided in some circumstances.
  • There will also be opportunity for group travel to training venues.

What career options will I have when I finish?

  • On successful completion you may choose to:
  • join a level 3 apprenticeship;
  • go on to further education;
  • apply for jobs as a countryside maintenance or estate worker;
  • work as a contractor undertaking work such as basic tree work or drystone walling
  • work for a contractor

Any other Questions please contact:

Helen Betts


Tel: 07970237094