We help to get Disadvantaged Sections of Society Gain Meaningful and Secure Employment
KWES – Kent Woodland Employment Scheme is a charity dedicated to providing meaningful, paid apprenticeships to people who find it difficult to get a job. We principally seek to recruit suitable candidates who are ex-offenders, ex-Services and young people who have little or no qualifications. What they all have in common is a strong desire to make a fresh start and work towards gaining a secure future for themselves and their families.
We provide comprehensive 3 year paid apprenticeships which encompass internationally recognised qualifications in woodland management, an area of real skills shortage. The Forestry Commission estimate that there are only 600 qualified woodland managers in the whole of the UK. KWES is seeking to help fill this void.
The demand for apprenticeships far exceeds supply
Currently KWES has 20 apprentices in training at various stages of their 3 year apprenticeship. We will recruit an additional 10 apprentices who will start their training in October 2016.
Charitable donation pays for the bulk of the training and equipment but this will change over time
Part of our costs were provided by a government grant but we mainly rely on charitable donations to fund the equipment and training for our apprenticeship programme. This is supplemented by income generated from woodland products which apprentices produce as part of their practical training. Currently the split is 80% charitable donation and 20% product sales but we expect to shift to 70% product sales and 30% charitable donation over time.
Those from an institutionalised or poor achievement background often thrive at KWES
A KWES apprenticeship has proven to be an ideal environment for ex-Service personnel who have difficulty returning to civvy street including some who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder problems; ex-offenders also from an institutionalised background who have problems getting into paid work and young people leaving school, often with few or no qualifications and little confidence in their ability to gain any.
Our apprentices are attracted to working in the natural environment and particularly the ancient woodland in which much of our training takes place. These beautiful woodlands help reduce stress and anxiety engendering a feeling of well being for all who work in them, not just those suffering psychological problems.
Our environmental role
A large amount of the practical and work experience training is carried out in ancient woodlands. This unique habitat is of vital importance to a vast range of animals, flora and fauna. It is the UK’s equivalent of the rain forest and just as important in value if not in scale. Once lost it can never be replaced.
Our apprentices learn all the practical and theoretical skills required to keep ancient woodland healthy and sustainable. We work with landowners to maintain their woodland so that they are healthy, safe and accessible to the local population.
We aim to rescue ancient woodland in the UK from the current crisis where it has little or no statutory protection and is under real threat, as much of it is poorly maintained or being destroyed to make way for urban development.
KWES produces a wide range of woodland products ranging from beanpoles to fence posts for the local gardening market to bags of charcoal for barbecues. See woodland products section.