Sunday, 20 January 2013

Business is Booming for Young Gamekeepers

The Telegraph carried an article on 10 January reporting that record numbers of Scottish youngsters are getting jobs as gamekeepers after completing specialist courses.

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.

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