KWES – Kent Woodland Employment Scheme is a young charity that started operating in 2013 to provide apprenticeship training for ex-Service personnel; young people with poor qualifications and ex-offenders.
Our apprentices obtain recognised qualifications that will ensure that at the end of their three-year apprenticeship period they can secure a worthwhile job.
Our trainees are people who have served their country in the armed forces but face difficulty in the transition to life outside, those who have recently left school but are unable to find work and those who have been involved in crime but wish to make a new start.
Working in small teams of four apprentices under the supervision of a fully qualified Team Leader in beautiful ancient woodland surroundings, provides the ideal mix of mental fulfilment and solid physical activity that apprentices appreciate.
The apprentices study for two professional forestry qualifications designed by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) and awarded through the Awarding Bodies Consortium (ABC), the Level 2 Certificate in Forestry and the Level 3 Certificate in Silviculture (the sustainable management of woodlands). These are widely recognised throughout the forestry industry. The Horticulture Correspondence College provide the theoretical qualifications, LANTRA trainers and KWES Team Leaders the practical ones. Awards include using chainsaws, cross-cutting timber, felling and processing trees, safe pesticide and forestry machinery use, and wood processing.
Currently we have 20 apprentices in training. It costs around £30,000 to equip and train each apprentice and demand for places far exceeds supply. The bulk of the costs are currently paid for by government grant and charitable donation circ. 80% with the remaining 20% paid through the sale of woodland products that apprentices produce as part of their practical training. The hope is that moving forward an increasing proportion of the costs of funding apprentices will be paid for through the sale of woodland products.
KWES – Kent Woodland Employment Scheme was the brainchild of KWES Chairman Allison Wainman who recognised the need to rebuild and enhance the skills needed to protect and maintain the UK’s ancient woodlands.
Ancient Woodland is under severe threat through a combination of urban development and a lack of the skills needed to protect and maintain it. KWES is tackling this threat in three ways:
First KWES is looking to redress the skills shortage through its apprenticeship programme.
Second KWES works closely with local landowners to support them in bringing ancient woodland back into sustainable use.
Third KWES is lobbying government to give ancient woodland more statutory protection as once it is lost it can never be replaced. The importance of ancient woodland cannot be over stated. It is a vital habitat for a vast range of birds and animals, many endangered species of flora and fauna and over 300 species of fungi.