Predator Free Apprentice Programme

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Initially funded by the DOC Kaimahi for Nature fund in 2020, the programme is a ‘walk alongside’ initiative where apprentices are hosted by experienced pest control specialists across the country.

The Predator Free 2050 vision requires skilled practitioners. With a limited number of experienced predator control specialists in the country and, until now, few compelling career pathways, the Apprenticeship Programme is a proven avenue for lifting the predator control sector. 

The programme fosters a passion for the work, the predator free vision and the species it protects. Apprentices gain qualifications, including the NZQA Certificate in Pest Operations (Level 3) and other relevant industry training.

A man in hi-vis hammers a trap into a tree.
Apprentice Hugo Pearce at work as part of the Predator Free Apprentice Programme. Image credit: Better Nature

They also gain practical, on-the-job experience with a range of predator control tools, techniques and projects.

A woman in hi-vis checks a trap mounted to a tree
Jenilee Hill is proud to be a Predator Free Apprentice graduate. Image credit: OPBG

After four years, 59 apprentices have graduated from the programme, with 98% employed in the sector upon graduation. 

Hosts have reported business growth and a stronger connection for their teams to the Predator Free 2050 vision. Many apprentices have noticed an increase in their confidence, resilience and desire to remain working in conservation, alongside the practical skills gained.

As part of the programme, apprentices have provided over 16,000 hours of local on-the-ground support to conservation groups, landowners, and other projects. Hosts also provide expertise to volunteer projects and report closer connections to local communities as a result.