Trailblazing apprenticeship programme for the forestry sector re-opens

  • The Professional Forester Apprenticeship programme offers an exciting career pathway into the forestry sector for people from all backgrounds
  • The three-year, paid development opportunity launched in 2022 and marked the first time that a degree-level forestry apprenticeship had been offered in the UK, with two successful rounds of recruitment since opening.
  • Applicants will benefit from academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria alongside practical experience in Forestry Commission area teams across England.

Applications for the next cohort of the innovative Professional Forester Apprenticeship programme have re-opened today (on Saturday 2 December) as part of National Tree Week.

The programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds looking to kickstart their careers in forestry. The apprenticeship aims to grow and upskill the forestry sector workforce and is open to school leavers, graduates or anyone looking for a change in career direction. The programme will support jobs and opportunities in rural communities and help to increase capacity to meet woodland creation and forest management needs, which in turn will support the Government’s tree planting and woodland creation ambitions over the coming years.

Professional Forester Apprentices will enjoy academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria, hands-on experience in Forestry Commission area teams throughout England, and the potential of wider sector placements to further develop their skills and experience and improve future employment prospects.

Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a BSc (Hons) Professional Forester and will be able to apply for Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters.

Forestry Commission Chief Executive Richard Stanford said:

The Professional Forester Apprenticeship programme is a fantastic opportunity to earn as you learn, with our current students thriving though a unique mix of hands-on experience and academic study that will equip them for a future in forestry, and help to address the skills shortage in the forestry sector.

“The Forestry Commission is leading the way with this unique development opportunity, and we continue to see first-hand the success of this programme. I encourage anyone interested to apply today to make a difference to our trees and woodlands for generations to come.”

Dr Rob Hawkins, Senior Education and Outreach Officer at the Institute of Chartered Foresters, said:

“We are delighted to see the launch of the third year of the Professional Forester Apprenticeship. This programme is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience alongside a BSc (Hons) degree, with the potential to gain chartered status too. It’s an exciting time to be entering the sector and this initiative is an incredible way to get a head start in an amazing career”

Dr Helen Manns, Director of the Institute of Science and Environment at the University of Cumbria, said:

“The University of Cumbria is committed to delivering higher-level and industry relevant skills through programmes developed collaboratively with employers and sector bodies. The Professional Forester degree-level apprenticeship is an excellent example of this approach.

“We are delighted that we can help the Forestry Commission ​with an apprenticeship programme that supports their Development Woodland Officer Programme, ​working alongside them and ​other partners to expand ​the long-term capacity of the sector and to deliver national ambitions for a skilled workforce in the coming years.”

Marcus Ling, Professional Forester Apprentice, said:

”For the last few years I was working in the arboriculture and garden landscaping industry. I was outside come rain or shine, working with a variety of tools. I really enjoyed this work, but wanted to increase my theoretical knowledge of trees, woodlands and nature. This apprenticeship enables me to study a university degree, learn from industry experts and still spend lots of my time outdoors.

“The best thing about the programme so far is the impact I am already having on the landscape, as I have been helping Woodland Officers to ensure that new planting is being undertaken responsibly and existing woodlands are managed carefully and all within my local area.”

To apply for a place on the Forestry Commission’s programme, visit Apply for a Forestry Apprenticeship - GOV.UK ( for more information. 

The Forestry Commission are also looking to work with employers who are able to take on apprentices who will join the Forestry Commission apprentices cohort for the formal part of their training. The Forestry Commission may be able to help with the process and are happy to talk through what's involved. We are currently working with a number of organisations as part of the current programme, including Scottish Woodlands, Euroforest, the Heart of England Forest and the National Trust.

If you would like to find out more, please contact