To provide bespoke land management training (with particular focus on practical heritage management skills) for those wishing to undertake learning which will help them to work in local rural economy.
The Churnet Valley Living Landscapes Partnership (CVLLP) project aims to conserve, enhance and celebrate the special landscape fringing the Peak District in the Staffordshire Moorlands and East Staffordshire. Although the Accredited Training project will reduce and improve many of the socio-economic problems the Churnet Valley currently faces with regards to unemployment and lack of local land based skills, one of the main objectives is to concentrate on many of the physical problems within the area, including taking out Himalayan Balsam, a non-native invasive species currently dominating the valley.
CVLLP believes the Accredited Training programme will provide local people (and people from outside of the CVLLP boundary) with a varied and unique experience to help them gain employment within the area, and importantly, create a sense of ownership of the landscape. To ensure individuals are able to achieve their targets, a process of differentiation and ‘cross-over points’ will enable the various elements e.g. apprenticeships and ‘one off’ certifiable modules to shape each trainee’s journey. There will be three important outcomes from delivering the Accredited Training project in the CVLLP project through:
- filling the gap in local training, thus increasing employability amongst the local workforce in the land management, heritage and conservation sector
- ensuring partners within the CVLLP area have access to bespoke training to fulfil their needs e.g. apprenticeships
- to create an eradication programme for invasive non-native plant species within the CVLLP area, directly helping to change the landscape, boost biodiversity and increase social inclusion and learner empowerment
Fit to existing strategies and objectives
Safer, Stronger Communities
The training programme addresses issues identified by the Safer, Stronger Communities thematic group with the local district LSP regarding the provision of positive activity and learning opportunities that lead to increased employability.
Young People and the Accredited Training Programme
Young people who sign up and undertake the accredited training programme will ultimately be fighting against the current economic down turn, and the many other issues that youth have had to face as a result of this include:
- inequality gap in the achievement of a level 2 qualification by the age of 19 (people from poorer, more disadvantaged backgrounds under achieve)
- young people from low income backgrounds progressing to higher education
- young people participating in positive activities
- 16 to 18 year olds who are not in education, training or employment (NEET) participating in training
Local economy & environmental sustainability (National Indicators)
The Accredited Training Programme contributes to the following National Indicators.
NI 174: Skills gaps in the current workforce reported by employers.
NI 197: Improved Local Biodiversity – proportion of Local Sites where positive conservation management has been or is being implemented – increased levels of skills amongst local workforce and local people in general will provide greater opportunities for positive conservation activity.
Other contributions through the ATP
The West Midlands Regional Biodiversity Strategy aims to focus attention on the most important priorities for biodiversity in the region, set out in five key challenges:
- maintaining and improving the condition of habitats, species and ecosystems
- developing an area-based approach to restoring wildlife
- monitoring the conditions of habitats, species and ecosystems
- re-connecting and integrating action for biodiversity with other environmental, social and economic activity
- and coping with the impacts of climate change
The activities conducted in the project will address all of these challenges. Habitat improvement undertaken as part of the training programme will increase biodiversity and also increase connectivity between habitats and enable movement of wildlife to other green spaces.
The ‘Green spaces, better places: Final report of the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce’ published by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in 2006 noted that parks and green spaces can make a valuable contribution to the health and well being of the local community as well as expanding the educational opportunities of children and adults. However the report concluded that there has been a worrying decline in the quality of many parks and green spaces and action is urgently needed to halt the decline now. This decline can only be halted if there are enough trained people capable of undertaking the work.
Within Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s movement, the project supports the following aims of the Wildlife Trusts’ People & Wildlife teams:
- to broaden the constituency for nature conservation and wildlife protection by develop activities that are enjoyable and inclusive
- to empower individuals and communities to become involved in activity, planning and decision-making that is beneficial to the environment
- to identify and removing barriers to awareness-raising and participation, whether they are social, cultural, physical, economic or intellectual
- to model current best practice in environmental matters in all our operations and activities
- to enable people to explore and improve the sustainability of their everyday life choices and how they impact on biodiversity
It is vital that people have the skills to identify species and understand individual species’ behaviour and their requirements, otherwise we will not know how best to manage habitats to preserve species, and consequently, our natural heritage will be lost. There are already 1150 species and 65 habitats that have been listed as priorities for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, with approximately 75% of the non-marine habitats priorities within the West Midlands, reflecting the variety of the Region’s natural assets, including; upland moorland, woodlands, heathlands, grassland, river floodplain and extensive areas of arable and pastoral farmland. Caring for these species will become increasingly problematic as the climate changes and more habitats is lost.
Comprehensive description of the project
An Accredited Training Programme will be delivered from September 2012 to June 2015 with the overall objective of:
“providing bespoke land management training (with particular focus on practical heritage management skills) for those wishing to undertake learning which will help them to work in local rural economy.”
This programme will be an essential element of CVLLP providing a link between different strands of the overall project.
The training course will be developed from an existing Level 2 course, (Certificate and Diploma in Work-based Environmental Conservation ) to incorporate learning and skills development as identified by the CVLL Partnership. The key areas of learning will be around practical heritage skills such as conservation and estate management. We will also deliver supplementary training, complementing the Level 2 package, but focussing on specific skills such as dry stone walling and green wood working (for example).
The course will be accessible through partner organisations as part of their engagement work with young people and adults through CVLLP. The courses will be also be promoted through the local Volunteer Centre, Staffordshire Moorlands CVS, the Youth Service, local colleges and training providers, and will be available for anyone aged 16+ with a minimum of level 1 (grades D – G at GCSE) as the entry level.
SWT will deliver additional accredited courses including Forest Schools Level 3 and the John Muir Award. Non-accredited (certified) modules/days/weekends will be a part of our delivery. SWT envisage local people (directed through the participation strand) may want to learn how to coppice, for example, as well as week or two week summer work parties who may want to gain a set of skills that contribute towards another accreditation or award e.g. John Muir.
The Training Officer will work closely with all elements of the programme and will be the link contact for the tributary training elements throughout the 3 years. The Training Officer will come into post in April 2012 but the training will not commence until September 2012. Within this 5 month period, the Training Officer will be developing the course, building partner contacts, working towards the first in-take starting, and providing taster days to local providers and partners involved, to improve uptake at the start of the programme. The very last month for intake will be July 2014.
The Officer will also develop an initial volunteer programme to introduce those interested and eligible to undertake the qualification and have the opportunity to show they have commitment to the year long programme they are signing up for. This will be an important ‘commitment strategy’ that will help learner retention over the three years, therefore reducing the drop-out rate and greater chances of successfully completing the course and improving their chances of gaining employment.
The Training Officer will develop an induction programme for those participating in the full programme, and will ensure starter packs are made available for each learner on when they start. The Training Officer will also ensure there is a good network for progression routes and/or sign-posting during and after participation in the course. It is important for learners to have access to wider organisations, know the local rural economy and employment sector, and know of other training providers, colleges, and wider ‘life skills’ agencies to give them a holistic experience and limit complications and low expectations.
Examples of Modules to be delivered include:
- maintaining good environmental practice
- establishing and maintaining good working relationship
- monitoring and maintaining health & safety
- maintaining and improving water channel capacity by manual bank reforming and de-silting operations
- removing unwanted plant growth to maintain development
- constructing and repairing access gates
- Constructing, maintaining and repairing reinforced paths
- Carrying out habitat management
It’s important to note that although there will be core modules that each participant will need to undertake, to ensure they have an individual, tailored programme (and show differentiation), a small number of modules can be chosen so that delegates will have a choice to steer their skill-set in a particular direction.
Example Project for Accredited Training – Woodland Habitat Management within the Churnet Valley
Within the Churnet Valley area, the training programme will access various longer themed project or ‘mini’ projects over the life time of the programme. Great planning is needed for these additional projects, but with the variety and ‘crossing over’ nature of the wider CVLLP project, the training programme will benefit hugely from the input of boundary work, the Woodland Officer’s input and so on.
An integral and core element of the training programme will ensure that participants engage in working to maintain suitable site conditions for various habitats, one of which will be more prevalent and require regular attention i.e. the woodlands of the Valley.
Some current factors affecting woodlands in the valley include:
- invasion of semi-natural woodlands by non-native plant species such as rhododendron, Fallopia japonica Japanese knotweed, sycamore, Quercus cerris Turkey oak, Impatiens glandulifera Himalayan balsam, snowberry and cherry laurel
- the use of heavy machinery in some woodland operations can cause damage through soil compaction etc and this must be addressed if currently neglected or under-managed woodlands are to be brought back into management
- excessive visitor disturbance including dog walking
- fragmentation of woodland due to development or clearance for other
Participating people will be expected to take part in a programme of woodland habitat management ranging from:
- sycamore, himalayan balsalm, rhododendron and other invasive species removal and the reasons why it needs to removed
- implementing regular coppicing regimes and developing skilled techniques around this
- thinning woodland canopies for increased biodiversity and sunlight and through this, learning to tree fell
- general scrub clearance to make way for younger trees and other species
- learning how to use specialist equipment and keeping safe at all times
Who will benefit?
Learners taking part in the programme will benefit through:
- gaining practical skills in heritage, farming, and various methods of land management within the Churnet Valley
- improving their employment prospects
- improving engagement in community and voluntary activity with a heritage focus
- engaging with other learners and experiencing work on a range of different sites in the CVLLP area
- the developing of a clear framework to enable progression and access to local services and further training provision and opportunities within the CVLLP area
- participating with partner organisations of the CVLLP project who will benefit from the Training
- improving in physical and mental well-being
- opportunities to try new and exciting activities
Outputs and outcomes
- 100 people will take part in the accredited training programme over the 3 years of delivery.
- 90 people will have success in passing modules relating to L2 modules.
- 40 people will undertake additional training through the short course programme.
- 10 young people from the Youth Project will take part and complete the L2 qualification.
- 5 people will gain jobs as a direct result from the L2 qualification.
- 5 local sites will be used to deliver the training.
- Learners who take part in the CVLLP Accredited Training Programme will gain more than just a qualification or certificate. They are likely to gain greater employability skills to help boost the local workforce and ensure heritage skills are continuing locally. Learners will become empowered within their own community, helping to become mentors, volunteers and community champions in order to encourage others to become involved in the future.
- Training will help ‘fill the gap’ for local training provision, bringing bespoke training to an area that needs a targeted and individual approach to boosting this part of the rural economy.
Risks and constraints
Risk: Key staff retention; technical skills and particularly relationships with learners and other training partners need to be built up over time and staff recruitment and retention is therefore important.
Contingency planning: Project is over a reasonable timescale compared to many other projects this should attract committed staff.
Risk: Long term staff absence could affect the success of the project because it has ambitious targets for the project timescale.
Contingency planning: Contingency budget to pay for cover for staff if necessary.
Risk: Insufficient take-up of learners/in-takes for each year
Contingency planning: Our training partnership (with various other local organisations) has helped us reach realistic numbers and outputs for the project. We believe that our plan to get a good volunteer structure into place will ensure a large number of learners stay for the duration. We also believe that using the ‘roll-on, roll-off’ method will ensure that there is a continuous uptake and drop-off/completion throughout the duration of the programme.
Post project risks
Risk: Accredited Training within the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership ceases when funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ends.
Contingency planning: All of the accredited training will be delivered:
- either with existing training organisations who will be able to carry out various elements/modules of the work that we have developed under CVLLP
- or in conjunction with a CVLLP partner, who by the end of the Heritage Lottery programme will have formed their own, free standing, accreditation training within CVLLP
Constraints, licences, permits etc
We do not envisage the requirement for land or heritage based constraints or permissions. However, all of the Accredited Training project will be managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust in compliance with all codes of practice.
Climate change and environmental sustainability will form the basis of this training and will be included as part of trainee inductions to encourage individuals to take responsibility for their local environment. This will be reiterated throughout the project as a form of good practice for all staff and trainees and promote a culture of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, plus many other themes.
Our Accredited Training Programme will work with the Participation project (CVLLP 9) on the “Churnet Valley Big Pull” and the Youth Engagement Project (CVLLP 13), and the Apprenticeships Programme (CVLLP 21). The training programme will incorporate modules to ensure participants are certified but in most cases accredited for their part in this. From this start the programme will work with individuals to increase their understanding of ecological issues such as invasive species
Our Training Officer will maintain high levels of bio security with participants and learners while undertaking specific projects. They will also work with others to raise the awareness of bio security issues within the valley.
Reduce travel: The Training Officer will be based at the CVLLP office in the project area to reduce travel to a minimum and meetings will all be held in the project area. Where possible, site management equipment will be stored in the project area so we don’t need to bring it in from a distance. Lock-up ‘pods’ will be made available when working on the canal element of the programme to help store materials and equipment for ease and accessibility.
Efficient travel: Vehicles provided for the project staff will be low carbon emissions vehicles; there will be a CVLLP dedicated mini-bus available within the overall project which will be used to reduce private car use. We will endeavour to run training close to population centres, near to cycle ways or bus stops so that learners can meet the CVLLP minibus at appropriate points in order to lower their use of personal transport.
Discipline: Project Staff will be expected to comply with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Environmental Policy (Appendix 2.3)
Our work with young people will be heritage orientated, but throughout there will be a strong element of sustainability and the potential for young people to in include environmental issues in the projects they carry out.