case study:  Project activities delivered to Cornwall Environmental Consultants (CEC) by The Cornwall College Group (TCCG)

Overview of the project

The ESF Business Clusters Project provided a unique opportunity to create a new L7 MSc Apprenticeship , (equivalent to a master’s degree) in ecological restoration, and specialise in one of three ecological subjects, has been added to the environmental and conservation courses on offer at Eden – a partnership between the world-famous attraction and TCCG.

Cornwall Environmental Consultants – Provide a professional ecology, arboriculture and landscape architecture services across the South West – Taking on an Ecology apprentice gave CEC the opportunity to take on a new employee (Ecology Apprentice).

Sector Priorities & Regional Drivers

This is a UK first and an incredible opportunity for businesses as well as students in the Rural sector.

This new course has been designed in direct response to the demand seen from within the sector. TCCG confirm that the course was created by a ‘trailblazer group’, which brought together 10 employers to combine expertise from the ecology industry and involved leading voices including from Natural England, the Environment Agency, Greenspace Ecological Solutions and Middlemarch Environmental.

The region needs more trained ecologists and Apprenticeships offer one of the best ways to get a qualification in such a hands-on industry. Apprentices can earn whilst they learn, and employers will help create experts in the field whilst being seen to have a strong commitment to this vital sector.

Project Delivery

What need was identified?
The Apprenticeship represents a new way to work with ecology employers to provide the academic and practical experience required for the next generation of ecologists.

What was delivered?
A Level 7 Ecologist Apprenticeship working with the employer, CEC and the Cornwall College at the Eden Project Learning. This involved Business Engagement meetings between CEC and the College as well as an Apprenticeship Development Fund Grant payment to recruit a suitable candidate for the Level 7 Ecology Apprenticeship who would be employed at CEC for 30 hours a week and have one day each week at Cornwall College with residential course at Eden Project Learning.

Business Insight, Impact and Feedback

The Employer, Natasha Collings-Costello MEnv Sci MCIEEM CEnv CSci, Cornwall Environmental Consultants (CEC) Ltd stated that:

“The Ecology apprenticeship gave us the opportunity to take on a new employee who would genuinely be learning on the job. Given that this is a L7 MSc apprenticeship, our apprentice brought plenty of transferable skills and experience from their previous employment which meant they could really hit the ground running.”

“The offer of an apprentice came at an ideal time for us, as we started working on a ground breaking partnership project looking at the potential to create more space for sand dunes around our beautiful Cornish coastline.”

“Thanks to the residential placements the MSc students attend provides exposure to a wide range of environmental issues, including in areas such as contaminated land and soil science. As we are a Wildlife Trust consultancy, we are hoping that our Apprentice will be able to focus their MSc research project on a Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) land holding, measuring the change in soil carbon as it transitions from pasture to woodland. As we are based in Cornwall, they will be able to use the Eden
project labs to analyse samples, making a valuable contribution to CWT’s land management and giving a really cutting-edge research project. “

“We offer on-the-job training with our team of very experienced ecologists, so that they gain experience and knowledge of plant and animal identification, habitat and species surveying and functionality and habitat management. Finally, and importantly, we can also benefit from the link to academia and gaining access to recent research and laboratory equipment.”

“As we all know there are skills gaps in ecology and working with a placement supported by academia in this way, we believe offers a really valuable opportunity to help bridge these gaps.”