Careers in Nature Conservation – a European project to help University students develop the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to gain employment in the sector

October 16th 2016 saw the culmination of a week’s intensive training based at the University of Evora’s Herdade da Mitra farm in Southern Portugal. Nine students from Hungary, Portugal and the UK had been studying in and around the farm, supported by an international team of staff from the Universities of Evora (Portugal), Elte (Hungary) and Exeter (UK) along with colleagues from a range of Non-Governmental Organisations working in the sector from each country (SPEA – Portugal, Barn Owl Foundation – Hungary, Ambios – UK).

The students were learning about the nature conservation sector in Europe, the different employment opportunities available, what it’s like to work in the sector and what it takes to be successful in a job application. Employers in Portugal gave some fascinating insights into their world and careers professionals from each country showed the students how to become more employable and entrepreneurial using state-of-the-art models and current thinking.

The programme also featured practical field skills, delivered in the surrounding Montado – ancient cork oak forest – concluding with international student teams leading “wildlife walks” looking at birds, grasshoppers and beetles in the area.

The success of the programme is summed up well by student feedback: “the training was incredibly useful”; “thank you for being an inspiration to everyone through your stories and your love for what you do”; “I have learnt lots of skills for employability, especially in the context of nature conservation”; “It’s a good opportunity to build up your confidence and develop and/or improve skills within biodiversity sector”