Sunday, 20 January 2013
Business is Booming for Young Gamekeepers
College leaders claimed the increase in graduates entering the industry showed measures they had taken to rectify the comments in a recent survey were taking effect. The survey had been commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage, and carried out by LANTRA; it indicated that the Scottish game and wildlife industry was dominated by an ageing male work-force.
Alex Hogg, chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association was quoted, "In the classrooms, [the students] are learning about conservation and legislation affecting the countryside. They are articulate, well-qualified individuals with a pride in their role and estates are employing them, creating youth jobs at a time when the economy is faltering and young people, especially in remote areas, have few other opportunities."
The shift towards formal qualification is an interesting development. A piece of paper will not make an unsuitable candidate into a great gamekeeper, but it will provide an indication of a skill level and an aptitude for the work. This job is not for everyone - the unsocial hours and the nature of the job requires a dedication and a level of skill that goes way beyond what can be accumulated in a college course.
However, is the acceptance and success of the formal qualification route to becoming a gamekeeper a sign of change? Maybe the rural industries have existed for too long on 'grandfather rights' and we need to embrace formal training in more places. I am dealing with the review of the Muirburn Code in Scotland and I suspect that one of the issues that will be raised for consideration as part of the review will be whether formal training should be a prerequisite for carrying out muirburn.