Green apprenticeship case studies

Apprenticeships and skills are at the forefront of the green agenda. Below is a set of case studies, bringing to life the contributions that apprentices are making to achieving net-zero by 2050.

Sarah Firth – Forest operative

Sarah Firth, 45, is currently training to be a forest operative at Bedgebury Pinetum forest in Kent.

Having worked in an office for several years, Sarah decided to try and find a different challenge and look for an apprenticeship. Having Bedgebury Pinetum forest on her doorstep is what gave Sarah the push to look into the work that they and Forestry England do:

“Learning about the impact forestry has around the world both negatively and positively, what changes are being made to move forward in a way that will have an optimistic impact on the environment and our timber industry. It was an easy decision to join an organisation with such strong values.”

As part of her role, Sarah works with the ‘tree team’, which works on the pinetum site in the forest and looks after the specimens there, as well as working in the onsite nursery, an area which helps to grow rare plants. Sarah also helps out with the district teams in Kent and the South East and her work here includes felling or getting involved in new plantations. As ever with the English weather, tasks do vary depending on the time of year.

Sarah has enjoyed the new challenge and is excited for what the future holds.

The opportunities and experience available to people through green apprenticeships is something Sarah believes should be shouted from the rooftops:

“The work Forestry England does is important in so many ways. Research in diversity of tree species for both wildlife and timber production which is both important for climate change and resilience. Plant health and research into pest and diseases preventing possible loss in many of our native and non-native species.

“I think it’s very important to let the younger generation know these green apprenticeships are out here and to encourage them to get involved for the future environment. The range of direction they can go in is endless and exciting!”

Sarah is currently doing a level 2 forest operative apprenticeship.

Shea Bunyan – Environmental practitioner

Shea Bunyan, 20, is doing a degree level apprenticeship to become an environmental practitioner with the Environment Agency in Kent.

He decided on an apprenticeship because he values hands-on experience and putting theory he learns into practice. He believes that blending education with his day-to-day work has helped him learn faster.

The thing that fires him up most every day is knowing that his role is helping to save the environment.

Environmental practitioners support their employers to promote sustainable growth in a manner that is practical whilst responsible, using fewer natural resources, producing less waste, and without compromising the quality of the built and natural environment.

“I took the opportunity of starting a role that would make a difference. Having grown up in an era where environmental protection featured more and more in the news and throughout society, I knew that it was partly my responsibility to take control and make a real change.”

At the minute, Shea is working in South London as part of the waste team, which regulates the storing, treatment, recycling and disposal of waste. Part of his role in this team is to coordinate paperwork for waste visits which ensure environmental measures are in place and contact waste owners who aren’t complying with regulations, handing them enforcement notices and requesting evidence of compliance.

Looking to the future, Shea wants to work in the flood and coastal risk department. He has also volunteered for a role in flood incident and environment management, which is open to all Environment Agency employees. The role will help to develop his skills in major flood and environmental incidents and get more understanding of the wide breadth of work the Environment Agency does.

Shea has no regrets about the choices he made and believes he made the right career decision. His apprenticeship has allowed him to get his foot in the door in a sector that is becoming more important every day:

“My apprenticeship is important to me because it is important to the environment. Careers in the green sector are becoming ever more vital in the world we live in to regulate and protect our precious planet. My role is great as it allows me to join as a complete blank sheet and whereas other employees would very rarely leave their specific team they have joined, I get to rotate into all the different branches of the Environment Agency which means I get a greater understanding of the different and important work we do.”

Shea is currently doing a level 6 environmental practitioner apprenticeship.

Hamzah Ahmed – Aerospace engineer

headshot of hamzahHamzah Ahmed, 22, is currently doing a degree apprenticeship to become an aerospace engineer at Airbus in Bristol.

As a schoolboy who always enjoyed the theory of academic study, it wasn’t until Hamzah had completed his design and technology GCSE that he found out he also really enjoyed the practical side of learning. It was after his A Levels that Hamzah decided to go down the more practical route and get hands-on experience in a role that he knew would be perfect for him.

Hamzah has had the opportunity to work on a number of sustainable projects through Airbus’ ambitions to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development goals. A challenge, Hamzah says, to ensure we can fly sustainably:

“It's been really inspiring to be working on projects that include material-waste reduction with 3D printing and how we can fly using 100% sustainable aviation fuels.”

Hamzah has learnt a lot in his apprenticeship and has had the benefit of being moved around departments. So far Hamzah has worked in areas such as fuel systems, 3D printing, which uses lasers to make shapes instead of having to make the shapes out of titanium blocks, and the future projects team. As part of his placements in different departments, Hamzah is given three tasks that will help him develop his leadership and technical skills.

His role has seen him take on challenges to help Airbus reduce their carbon footprint and making aviation more sustainable.

Hamzah has really enjoyed his apprenticeship so far and would recommend those considering it to take up the opportunity:

“I’d certainly recommend any apprenticeship, especially those with companies that have a focus on developing more sustainable practices and technologies to enable us to live and work in a sustainable world. To earn whilst you learn and tackle some of the biggest engineering challenges is a great opportunity.”

Hamzah is currently doing a level 6 aerospace engineer degree apprenticeship.