Help needed with first step into forestry

With a vast area of Scottish forests to manage and monitor, there is an urgent need to grow the next generation of skilled foresters.

And we need businesses to help young people experience the real world of forestry work and decide to forge a career there.

And whether they’re future machine operators, site supervisors, planners or woodland officers, they can all benefit from the Forestry Pre-apprenticeship for 16-21 year-olds.

This scheme gives young people a first step into the sector, under the supervision of real forestry businesses that host them on placement.

It’s one of several encouraging initiatives underway, but this one has been adapted from the successful Land-based Pre-apprenticeship. It is designed as a relatively easy first step for young people and an ideal format for the hosting business.

The first cohort of forestry pre-apprentices successfully completed the programme last year and the five trainees have gone on to secure jobs within the sector.

And now the 2024 cohort of eight pre-apprentices recently started their training with an induction week at SRUC Barony campus in Dumfries (pictured with SRUC’s Fergal Downes).

Mentors needed

Five of the trainees still need mentor businesses to offer a six-month employment placement, particularly in Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll and Bute and the Scottish Borders.

Forestry management organisation RTS Forestry is an employer that recognises the importance of developing the next generation of forestry operatives.

They mentored a pre-apprentice in 2023 and shared their experience of the programme.

“[Trainee] Ryan joined us via the Forestry pre-apprenticeship initiative in September 2023. He arrived ready to work thanks to the pre-start training that was provided. It’s encouraging to see individuals like Ryan who are eager to learn and contribute positively from the outset. Offering him a full-time position as a Trainee Forest Craftsperson demonstrates both his capabilities and the company’s commitment to nurturing talent within the forestry sector.”

RTS Forestry

How it works

Ringlink employs the pre-apprentice and manages all administration, arranging the initial training through SRUC, with funding administered by Skills Development Scotland.

The mentor business has a chance to interview the pre-apprentice to make sure that they are suitable and they are responsible for trainee wages in accordance with the Scottish Agricultural Wages board minimum rates for the six-month placement.

The pre-apprentice gains a training package worth around £1,500 which is tailored to forestry. This includes the residential induction week, followed by bespoke short course training undertaken during the work placement.

For further information please contact Gail Robertson of Ringlink Scotland on 01561 377790 or at

Interested in finding out more about the Forestry Pre-apprenticeships?

Click on the icon on the left to download the booklet.

Forestry pre-apprenticeship