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Every year we take on around 25 apprentices throughout our organisation, and all across Scotland. From Trees and Timber to Mechanical Engineering, and Procurement to Data Science, we're proud to offer apprenticeships across a wide variety of disciplines. For Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023, we asked several of our apprentices about why they joined Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), and their experience so far.

What attracted you to an apprenticeship with FLS?

Zainab Omar (ZO) - Procurement Modern Apprentice: I was keen to enter a buying/purchasing role after completing my postgraduate study, so when I came across the opportunity for an entry-level procurement role within the public sector I was very eager to apply.

David Bowman (DB) - Civil Engineering Graduate Apprentice: I have always enjoyed outdoor activities growing up and always had an interest in studying Engineering. When the apprenticeship with FLS became available I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Being able to work outdoors in environments I am very familiar with and enjoy being in, while also studying a degree with real hands on experience is the best of both worlds.

Kyle Cartmell (KC) - Apprentice Mobile Mechanic: It seemed a good opportunity with a good variation of jobs to do.

What, if anything, has surprised you since starting your apprenticeship?

ZO: I never imagined how regulated and detailed procurement is, so it’s definitely been a learning curve for me.

DB: It has surprised me the number of teams and people responsible for looking after our forests, a lot of hard work and consideration goes into keeping our forests healthy and enjoyable places for us to use. As a lifelong mountain biker I have a newfound respect for everyone involved in keeping some of Scotland’s most beautiful places open to access and safe for everyone to enjoy.

Two branded vehicles on side of road

Kyle out on the road helping to keep our fleet of vehicles in good working order

Has your apprenticeship affected any long term goals you have, like pointed you into a different work area?

ZO: I’m getting more accustomed to working in procurement every day, but so far I think that the progression and work-life balance that is offered has encouraged me to pursue a more permanent role in procurement.

DB: I always expected to work in engineering in some capacity but never in the public sector. Forestry civil engineering was new to me at the time of applying and it excited me from the moment I began to research it. My main goal in life has always been to enjoy it. FLS has helped me become closer to achieving this goal. 

KC: Not really, I’ve always wanted to work with vehicles from a very young age and its something I do in my own time too with restoring classic cars.

How have you found working with other FLS staff? Have you learnt a lot on the job? Has the experience of others helped you in your role?

ZO: FLS staff, particularly my previous line manager, have been extremely helpful in my transition into the organisation. I’ve been taken through all aspects of the role at a very steady pace whilst also being involved in enough tasks without feeling excluded or too overwhelmed.

DB: Working with my colleagues so far has been incredibly interesting and eye opening. The wealth of knowledge is incredible. Working with the people who built the bridges and roads decades ago is invaluable when coming back to do maintenance or design a replacement. I can imagine the role would be much more difficult without these people.

KC: Very good, everyone is very helpful, learnt a lot on the job as come across a fair few new problems I haven’t encountered before especially in add blue/emissions side of vehicles. Knowing what repairs have been carried out in the past has been very helpful as a lot of the time I am able to have a good idea of what the problem is before I have looked at it.

What’s the best thing about role you’re in?

ZO: Definitely the flexibility. I’ve never been in a role which offered similar accommodations, and I think it’s extremely valuable and important when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It also allows you to enjoy your role more as you’re able to prioritise your tasks according to when suits you.

DB: Being able to achieve a degree and work in the sector at the same time is very helpful when trying to imagine how everything works. Just this week for example we were able to watch a bridge installation which was very hard to comprehend just written on paper. 

KC: The variation in jobs that we can get unlike working in a dealership workshop that would have the same jobs all the time.

Person working in a forest

One of our Trees and Timber apprentices using a chainsaw on a windblown tree

What would you say to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship like yours?

ZO: I think it’s a great way to enter a field you have no experience is. An apprenticeship can provide you with not only the experience, but also the background to progress your career to a more permanent role.

DB: Don’t hesitate, it’s a great opportunity. FLS is a very inclusive organisation and anyone should apply. Everyone should do an apprenticeship in my opinion with the ability to learn on the job, achieve a degree and earn a salary. The university work can be challenging but FLS will assist you all the way.

Would you change anything about how your apprenticeship works?

ZO: I think the way my apprenticeship is structured allows me to get hands-on experience at all aspects of the role. I think the high level of engagement from my employer and colleagues is what has made my apprenticeship successful thus far.

DB: Less University work, more working in the forest!

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