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Drystone walling in the Yorkshire Dales Apprentice hard at work

Could an apprenticeship be for you?

Friday 4 January, 2019, by Katy Foxford

Hi! I’m Katy, I’m 26 years old, and growing up I was never sure what I wanted to do in life.

Now, I work in the Communications Team for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and have just achieved my Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship with Distinction.

Now, more than ever, apprenticeships are on the rise, and there are so many different sectors you can take an apprenticeship in. I want to show you how versatile apprenticeships can be and how an apprenticeship might be just the thing for you.

The Authority has eight apprentices at the moment: four Ranger Apprentices (funded by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust through the Stories in Stone and Green Futures projects), an Historic Environment Apprentice, a Planning Apprentice, a Land Management & Conservation Apprentice, and myself – and they range from ages 16 to over 30.

Yorkshire Dales National Park apprentice hard at work
Ian Colledge, one of the Ranger Apprentices, hard at work
Our Historic Environment Apprentice
Hannah Kingsbury, our Historic Environment Apprentice, helping with the Bainbridge Big Dig – a community archaeology project

My role as Communications Apprentice is very varied from one day to the next – exciting news stories are coming up all the time and new campaigns are being launched, so generating engaging and relevant content by creating posts on our social media channels to promote the National Park is key.

My background may be an unusual one, but has definitely been a great support in my role and in carrying out my apprenticeship. I completed my A-levels, I had a year out WWOOFING in the UK (which basically means working on organic farms), and then took a job in an office for a year before going to university.  After university, I made the decision to progress my career in a slightly different direction…

The main reason I undertook an apprenticeship after graduating from university was that I saw it as the perfect way to get into the area of work that I enjoy.

I studied Countryside Management at Harper Adams University. This has particularly helped me in my apprenticeship as it has enabled me to have a better understanding of the National Park Authority, as the organisation that looks after the area, and also understand current environmental issues. This makes it easier to engage well with the work that is published on the website and on social media. I feel my qualification has been extremely beneficial as it gives me a good understanding of what we are promoting and why, and has offered me the chance to share my knowledge.

On my university placement year with the National Trust I was involved in some social media work and developed an interest in communications, and I decided I would like to continue this after completing my degree.

Placement days with the National Trust at Wenlock Edge/
Me practicing my chainsawing on placement with the National Trust at Wenlock Edge

During my last months of studying I came across the apprenticeship in Digital Marketing with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. I saw it as the perfect opportunity to learn more about this subject, while working for a countryside organisation, in a countryside setting, in a communications team. I find it extremely rewarding being able to promote and create awareness for something that I am interested in and really care about.

I saw the opportunity to gain more knowledge and training on the job, while being paid and working in a team in a professional workplace, as an ideal first step on the ladder – as well as expanding my expertise in this new area of work.

At my desk carrying out social media duties
At my desk carrying out social media duties

I have gained many skills as a result of my apprenticeship and it has been a real learning curve. But I would say learning how to manage my time effectively has been so important in this role, as not only do I carry out day to day communications, I also work alongside other departments to help deliver particular campaigns.

Being able to balance their requests alongside personal training courses, assignments and exams can be challenging, but is an important life skill.

My career aspirations and ambition stem from my growing up in the countryside, studying Countryside Management, and wanting to be involved in the promotion of the countryside – in particular the opportunities it offers for enjoyment and the benefits of health and well-being for all. As part of this, I want to be able to produce exciting, engaging and informative content for our audiences to encourage them to participate, respect and enjoy the environment we have.

If I can get these messages out, not only do I fulfil any one of the Authority’s statutory purposes, but I feel I have fulfilled a personal desire to share this with others.

As part of my apprenticeship I have had so many opportunities to take part in many great projects, events and conferences, including the EUROPARC Conference at the Cairngorms National Park where I was part of a team that developed a new Youth Manifesto. I work in an area with some of the most beautiful countryside in the country, I go out and enjoy the fresh air on my lunch break and take in the stunning views that surround me. Apart from getting stuck behind the occasional tractor or caravan, my journey to work is an absolute pleasure.

I work with members of staff that love the work they do and we all share a similar passion for the countryside. I have gained an understanding of the challenges the National Park faces, but also the opportunities, and how – as one big National Park family – we continue to carry out the good work to make this treasured landscape one of beauty, one of enjoyment, and one for the future. And you can be part of that.

Kidston Force at Keld
Me on an annual Staff Day at Kisdon Force at Keld

I think my journey shows that it’s okay not knowing exactly want you want to do when you leave school. My work and studies have already taken me in various directions and all of them have led me to where I am now.

I have recently received fantastic news that I will now be moving to a permanent position within the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority as Tourism Support Officer. This is extremely important to me as a young person in the area and shows that the Authority is working hard to present opportunities of progression from apprenticeship positions.

As a result of this, the Authority are now advertising my previous position as Communications Apprentice – go to to find out more.

Just say yes! It’s amazing how many doors it will open.

Picture of Katy Foxford

Katy Foxford

Katy is the Tourism Support Officer with the YDNPA


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