Award-winning forestry and timber harvesting company Tilhill Forestry is on the hunt for candidates with drive, passion and enthusiasm who are interested in joining one of the forest industry’s leading graduate programmes.
Recent forestry graduates, or those studying for a degree in forestry or related subjects such as land management, environmental studies or horticulture, will be ideally placed to join the three-year programme. Successful applicants are assigned to a district office or business stream where they learn every aspect of that area, including shadowing highly experienced colleagues. They may then move around the country and across business streams, enabling them to build up their knowledge.
Tilhill Forestry Managing Director George McRobbie said: “The forest industry is a fantastic career choice and Tilhill Forestry is a superb company to work for. We are looking for graduates with drive, enthusiasm and passion. Tilhill Forestry offers all its employees a friendly and challenging work environment with good personal and career development opportunities.”
Tilhill Forestry Ltd, established more than 65 years ago is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor. Further information is available at www.tilhill.com
Read about some graduates who have recently joined the Tilhill Forestry programme:
Graduate Trainee Andy Baker
Before joining the Tilhill Forestry scheme, Andy Baker studied at Edinburgh University from 2009 to 13 - graduating with a degree in Ecological Science.
Andy, 24, who is from Nottingham, explains: “I enjoyed the forestry related topics we studied but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do.
“My first job was as an environmental officer with Nottinghamshire police. While I was there I spoke to a friend from university who was working for Tilhill Forestry in Dumfries and decided his job as an Assistant Manager (Graduate) sounded more interesting than mine!
“He told me he was working outside 40 to 50% of the time which really appealed. I learned that his work was very positive in terms of environmental change, which was a big driver for me. I made some enquiries, looked at the website and was lucky enough to get the job.”
The Tilhill Forestry programme particularly appealed to Andy as he felt it offered him a lot of independence. “It was about being in control of your own schedule and workload. The responsibility this job involves and the fact that I was valued appealed to me. It’s an important role.”
Andy is based in Llandovery, Wales, and in the Marches District. His current work as Assistant Manager (Graduate) includes site visits, talking to contractors and seeing how they carry out different operations, such as felling and spraying.
“I am also spending time with the GPS unit, which includes mapping out different areas. Other aspects of the role include working with felling and grant applications, and re-stocking. It is a very varied job.”
As far as his aspirations for the future are concerned, Andy wants to get ICF accredited so he can be a Chartered Forester. “If I can get that under my belt it will give me a lot of experience and help with my personal development. I’ve experienced the other side – 12-hour days, office-based in London and I much prefer working outside.”
And he has no hesitation when recommending forestry as a career: “I’d say, go for it! It is a far more rewarding career than many other environmental jobs. You have to be comfortable working by yourself part of the time, but that is part of the appeal. You are making a positive change and you can see that happening in front of you.”
Graduate Trainee Byron Braithwaite
Byron Braithwaite joined Tilhill Forestry’s graduate programme this year after graduating with a BSc in Forestry from Bangor University in Wales.
Based at Tilhill Forestry’s Jedburgh office in the Scottish Borders, 29-year-old Byron wanted a career that would give him an outdoor life.
Byron, who comes from Olney, in Buckinghamshire, has always had a love of nature. “I grew up loving the outdoors and after doing quite a lot of office work, I wanted to do something different. I knew about the government incentives to plant trees and was aware that the industry was growing and wanted to be part of it,” he explained.
He heard about Tilhill Forestry’s graduate programme while at university. “Graduates on the previous year’s course came in to talk about the training and support that was available. I wanted to gain field experience and I knew Tilhill Forestry was the biggest UK company in its field and it had a great reputation for delivering sustainable forestry, so that was all very appealing.”
Byron’s role as a graduate trainee involves supporting the senior foresters in their work outdoors as well as in the office, usually one or two days a week.
“There is a lot of field work, which is great for learning on-site tasks. I look at new planting sites, check the soil and whether it is feasible to plant there, and also work with contractors, checking on what they need and monitoring work.
“The office side involves grants, mapping work, documenting what progress contractors are making and providing the information they need.”
Byron is looking to progress in his career and become a Forest Manager and then a Senior Forest Manager.
So would Byron recommend forestry as a career? “It is very interesting and a great way of getting to work outside,” he says. “There are lots of different parts to the job and each day is different. I hope the industry continues to grow and more jobs become available. I feel very lucky to have come out of university into a job that fits me so well.”
Graduate Trainee Ewan Batchelor
Ewan Batchelor, 30, studied for an HND in Forestry at the Scottish School of Forestry at Inverness College, part of the University of Highlands and Islands. He also completed a successful, year-long student placement with Forestry Commission Scotland Lochaber Forest District, which formed part of the HND.
Ewan, who comes from Kirriemuir, in Angus, is now hoping to complete a BSc in Sustainable Forest Management part-time alongside his employment with Tilhill Forestry.
A passion for the natural environment lay behind Ewan’s decision to make his career in forestry. He says: “I come from a semi-rural background and my family would take me out hill-walking and fishing. I am captivated by the natural environment – be it forest, loch, mountain or coast - and I always find myself drawn to these places. A fascination for Scotland’s natural resources and curiosity of land management practices led me into forestry and I haven’t looked back.”
Tilhill Forestry’s reputation in the industry led Ewan to its graduate programme. He explains: “Tilhill is regarded as one of the leaders in the UK forest management industry so this was the main attraction for me. I came across the company during my placement with Forestry Commission Scotland and was impressed with its high standard of management as well as being greatly interested in a number of its projects across the country.”
His current role is as an Assistant Forest Manager (graduate), assigned to the North Highland District.
“I provide support to forest managers,” he says. “Typical duties include planning and supervising forest operations and planting contracts, assisting with crop inspections, mensuration, silviculture and developing long-term forest plans. I also support the development of grant applications as well as maintaining records and other company systems. The work varies greatly and a good proportion of it takes place outdoors.”
In the short term, Ewan wants to gain as much forestry experience as possible alongside completing his Bachelor’s degree part-time.
“I hope to continue broadening my skill-set and developing professionally to gain Chartered Forester status. In the longer term I would like to be involved in some unique projects at the forefront of forestry in the UK and perhaps even further afield. I very much look forward to meaningfully participating in an industry that I genuinely feel most passionate about.”
Ewan says the best part of his job is the satisfaction he gains from working in a natural environment. “I enjoy getting stuck in and contributing to the delivery of contracts and projects. I am fortunate enough to work with some excellent colleagues, with fantastic experience and individual talents.
“Working for a large forest management company such as Tilhill Forestry also presents many opportunities for personal and professional development.”
For those keen to embark on a career in forestry, his advice would be to “take that leap and never look back”. He adds: “Opting to study is a good starting place. I studied at the Scottish School of Forestry at Inverness College UHI - a fantastic institution where students get an excellent grounding in sustainable forest management. Relevant work experience is equally as important as theoretical studies and volunteering can help get your foot in the door and other opportunities can open up as a result.
“Also, I would strongly urge budding foresters to take pride in all their work efforts and draw on the experience of colleagues and seniors - keep asking questions and be inquisitive.”
Graduate Trainee Sam Bristow
Before joining Tilhill Forestry, Sam Bristow studied forestry and woodland management at the University of Cumbria.
Nature and the outdoor life have always played a big part in his life, right from early childhood. “I always loved anything to do with the outdoors,” he says. “When I was young I volunteered at a local nature reserve. I did that for about five years and working with nature was one of the career options I put down. While I was in high school and college I started to research a career in forestry.”
Sam, who comes from Ormskirk, in Lancashire, applied to join the Tilhill Forestry programme because he felt it was the right scheme to fulfil his ambitions: “I wanted to join a professional company with a salary and development scheme and Tilhill Forestry fitted that brief.”
He began work with the company as an Assistant Harvesting Manager, but changed recently to forestry.
“I work with a Senior Forestry Manager on certification and other duties to do with forestry such as on site and supervising on active jobs.”
Sam plans to stay with Tilhill Forestry and develop his career at the company. “I want to progress in the company and to develop personally,” he says. “As long as I have a job that challenges me and that I enjoy - that’s what matters to me most. Every contract and every forest is different and needs a different approach.”
And to anyone considering a career in forestry, Sam has this advice: “I’ve found one of the best ways of getting into the industry is combining some form of formal training with on the job experience as it makes you a more desirable candidate to employers. One of the great things about Tilhill Forestry’s graduate training scheme is that its training is right at the forefront of the industry.”