Conserving jobs for a new future

New leaf: Front, from left, Davan Edwards, Hillsborough College principal Heather Smith, Coun Julie Dore, Jenny Watts; rear Blake Coates, Connor Hunt, Hayden Richards, Carlos Holman, Kyle Lyndley and Sophie Thomas
New leaf: Front, from left, Davan Edwards, Hillsborough College principal Heather Smith, Coun Julie Dore, Jenny Watts; rear Blake Coates, Connor Hunt, Hayden Richards, Carlos Holman, Kyle Lyndley and Sophie Thomas
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Jobless teenagers in Sheffield are being offered the chance to turn over a new leaf and gain the conservation skills that local employers need.

The initiative, aimed at youngsters who are out of work and not in education or training, is being backed by Sheffield College and Sheffield City Council’s 100 Apprenticeship Scheme.

After spending seven weeks on a pre-apprenticeship preparation programme at Heeley City Farm, the youngsters will get hands-on training and work experience, whilst studying for a Level 2 Diploma in Conservation.

Roles will include conservation work on local nature reserves, maintenance along the River Don and running events in Sheffield parks.

Costs of the apprenticeships are split between the Council and employers backing the scheme, who include the Council’s own Ranger Service, the Wildlife Trust for Sheffield and Rotherham, the River Stewardship Company, the Stocksbridge Steel Valley Project and the Tinsley Tree Project.

Apprentice Blake Coates, who is based with Sheffield City Council’s South West Ranger Team, said: “The apprenticeship is a great opportunity which is helping me to get one step closer to my goal of working as a professional conservationist.”

The project has been launched as part of the commitment to support employment opportunities for young people made by Labour when it took control of the council in May, last year.

The new administration has earmarked £500,000 for an apprenticeship programme, aimed at young people who are registered as being unemployed or not in education or training.

Council leader Julie Dore said: “Young people are key to Sheffield’s future and the Council is determined to support young people who might otherwise find it harder to find their first job or apprenticeship place. This is why we have made it our priority to get these people on the right apprenticeship courses.”