THE Yorkshire Dales National Park decided yesterday (January 29) to launch an apprenticeship scheme to train young people in country skills which are in decline.
The first four youngsters, aged between 16 and 24, will be recruited this spring after officials recorded a growing skills shortage in the national park.
The courses will last for 18 months, partly involving classroom training, the remainder spent getting hands-on experience working in the field with park rangers. Successful candidates will receive a NVQ in countryside management.
Alan Hulme, a regional manager with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, commented: "Over recent months we have identified a local skills shortage in the Dales and today we have taken the first step to help fill that gap.
"Young local people will now have the opportunity to study in the classroom and alongside our rangers.
"They will learn a range of new skills, from stone walling and woodland management to business procedures. These skills will give them the confidence to enter local employment or to set up their own business at the end of the apprenticeship."
Steve Macaré, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: "This is another example of this authority working to support residents' of the Dales. By creating the Dales Apprenticeship Scheme we will equip and develop young people from the local community with a range of new skills relating to the management of the countryside in the national park.
"This in turn will help support the local economy by developing a skilled local workforce who will become the next generation of countryside managers."
The initiative has been developed through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust's Dales Heritage Education and Training Project with local training providers, employers and statutory and voluntary organisations, including the national park authority.