Shoulders to the wheel

Kelsey Williamson – Business Administration Apprentice

I decided to look for an apprenticeship after completing my A-levels as university wasn’t for me. I wanted to be out working however I had limited experience after only working part time while studying, at hotels, cafes and Sainsburys – so this wasn’t the experience I needed or the type of career I wanted to pursue.

I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do but after studying Business Studies at GCSE and A-Level I thought a Business Administration Apprenticeship was a good start; it would allow me to get the experience I was lacking, gain more qualifications and hopefully provide direction for a career. So I decided to join the North York Moors National Park Authority’s apprenticeship scheme.

Apprentices at the North York Moors National Park Authority currently make up about 14% of the workforce and compared to the other 15 National Parks in the UK we are the biggest employer of apprentices (the second place Park employs 9 behind our 17!) Our apprenticeships cover three different areas: Business Administration, Countryside Conservation and Tourism, and we offer Levels 2 (intermediate), 3 (advanced) and 4 (higher). The Apprentices range in age between 16 and 28.

Our Business Administration Apprentices normally do a two year apprenticeship with one year in the Corporate Services team assisting with office works such as phone cover, sorting the pool vehicles/room bookings and organising the post. The other year is helping the Planning Admin team, booking in and requesting payment for enquires, plotting applications and doing background searches. At the moment I’m working at a Level 4 role, alongside the Ranger Service team, undertaking project work such as selling off our old National Park boundary signs and looking at easy access routes within the Park.

The Countryside Workers and Apprentice Rangers are split into two teams – the Northern Area Team cover the north and coast areas of the Park and are based at Danby, and the Southern Area Team cover the south and west areas of the Park and are based at Helmsley.

Both teams have four Level 2 Apprentices and two Level 3s. The Level 2 Apprentices work together with their Supervisor doing jobs such as tree felling, fencing, path resurfacing and controlling vegetation. The Level 3s work under the Senior Ranger (North, Coast, South or West) taking on more responsibility including working on their own,  planning  jobs themselves, liaising with landowners and farmers, as well as working with our Volunteer Task Day Leaders and volunteer teams.

Our Tourism Apprentices are based at our Visitor Centres. In this role the Apprentices are dealing with customers, sorting and restocking displays and helping with events.  In the winter months when the Centres are closed during the week the Apprentices work in the offices. The Moors National Park Centre Apprentice assists with the education administration, sorting post, processing school bookings and arranging timetables for the week ahead. The Sutton Bank Centre Apprentice helps in our Park Services Team based in our Helmsley headquarters updating the events system, helping the social media officer and organising events.

Last year the Authority started an ‘Apprentice Forum’ to be run by ourselves. It is managed mainly by me, I coordinate the meetings and find out what the others would like to do and organise the trips. At present the Forum is meeting bi-monthly, it’s an excellent opportunity to do a bit of team building. We’ve had an initial meeting, a meeting to discuss one another’s roles, a tour of the new features at the Moors National Park Centre, and visited the Seated Man figure on Castleton Rigg to discuss the planning process undertaken and our opinions. We’re aiming to have a talk from past Apprentices about what we could do after our apprenticeships and also to visit the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park to meet up with their Apprentices.

Apprenticeship Forum - first official meetingDoing my apprenticeship has helped me gain a lot and not just in experience and qualifications. I have gained confidence, done things I never thought I would and learnt so many new skills from leading the Apprentice Forum to juggling workloads and deadlines.

I hope this won’t be the end of my learning I would like to go on and train more in a position that still has a link to the outdoors either with National Park Authorities or in the agricultural sector.

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