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KWES
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Our training helps young people into a secure and rewarding career

KWES – Kent Woodland Employment Scheme’s primary aim is providing training for those wishing to become woodland workers.

There is an acute shortage of people with the necessary skills and experience.   But those seeking jobs need both knowledge and experience in order to get a job.

apprenticeships 

The government define an apprenticeship as “a job with an accompanying skills development programme, designed by employers.”

Many industries have now developed their own programmes; approval under the “Trailblazer” scheme then means that the costs of training the apprentice are met by government, (in the case of large employers from a payroll-levy which they themselves pay, and for those apprenticed to smaller employers, out of general government funds.)   Across all industries, apprentices are expected to receive training one day per week (or equivalent block releases), and this is what the government pays for.

KWES is a registered apprentice trainer, and can provide this training. But because it is proving more difficult than was anticipated to organise the “marketplace” in which large numbers of training organisations can now offer training to more or less every employer in the country, and because of its need to have control over the total entitlement of smaller employers, the government has put back to April 2019 the start date from which KWES and other small training organisations can draw down government funds for apprentice training.

The forestry industry into which the apprentice will graduate

The “Trailblazer” scheme defines the knowledge and the competencies an apprentice needs for the Forestry Level 2 qualification. It is less easy to define the depth and quality of experience and skills that an employer would wish a potential employee to have acquired during his apprenticeship.

But KWES had been providing training since 2013 for apprentices to obtain an essentially identical Level 2 qualification, and what KWES’s training was then achieving was apprentices who had the level of skills and experience to make them “work-ready” for any job anywhere in the industry.

KWES remains committed to its future apprentices obtaining that same, five-days-a-week level of training and experience, but how this can be achieved if the government is only prepared to pay KWES as the “trainer” on a one-day-a-week basis, is a question that will need addressing with each apprentice and employer.

Other woodland training

Forestry has a bad accident and safety record. Over the last twenty years other “dangerous” industries have substantially put their houses in order, building, agriculture and fishing, but forestry is the laggard. This is deplorable – but it is also something that is being set right.

Training in forestry first aid is now a legal requirement for everyone working in woodlands; and KWES provides the courses.

Those having woodland work carried out by contractors need to know the latter have adequate insurance, which in turn means that the contractors need to ensure their workforce (whether employees or subcontractors) have suitable qualifications and experience. Again, KWES is fully equipped and able to assist.

The absolute priority in any training that KWES is engaged in is teaching the safe way in which the work can, and must, be done. Accidents are avoidable – short-cuts do not save time, they can too easily cost lives or limbs.   Regulations stipulate that trainees must at all times be under supervision, and each supervisor can be responsible for no more than four trainees. All this increases the overall cost of the training – and can reduce the trainees’ productivity in the woodlands – but nothing less is acceptable. All this is opportunity. And what makes it even more opportune for those who seek any of this training from KWES is that we can reduce what it would otherwise cost by accessing the various charitable and educational funds we have available.

KWES’ environmental role

We carry out much of KWES’s training, whether of apprentices or other woodland workers, in the ancient woodlands of the North Downs and in the High Weald. Often damp and with steep slopes, frequently also having suffered from inadequate management for many years, these “difficult” woods provide an unequalled breadth of experience for trainees.

Working outdoors in small disciplined teams in these woods markedly improves the well-being of our trainees; this may be notoriously difficult to measure, but stress and anxiety levels reduce, as does the lack of self-esteem too often suffered by low achievers who have had difficulties finding work. And they have the added satisfaction of seeing the benefits to the woodlands from the work they have actually done.