A group of eight forestry apprentices is embarking on a new two-year training programme at the Scottish School of Forestry.
The school, located at Inverness College UHI, is welcoming the first intake of students on its new Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in Trees and Timber.
The programme, which is supported by Forest Enterprise Scotland, will allow the students to study and work at the same time.
Welcoming the students during a visit to the school to mark this week’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said there was a high demand for young people learning forestry skills.
He said: “It is very heartening to see that young women and men have recognised forestry is a hugely rewarding career.
“The choices that these young people have made are not only great for them, but are also great for the sector and for the local area, which is keen to attract, train and retain young people.
“They have also entered forestry at a hugely exciting time, when forestry itself is about to embark on a new chapter, with the creation in a few weeks of two new agencies – Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland.”
He said the two new agencies would be instrumental in helping Scottish forestry to deliver more benefits to people, the environment, communities and business over the next 50 years and beyond.
The apprentices will receive on-the-job experience and training with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) from May this year.
They will also develop their skills through a recognised SVQ2/3 qualification from the Scottish School of Forestry.
Mr Ewing said FLS, which comes into being on April 1, has ambitions over the next few years to increase the number of apprentices and other trainee routes in forestry roles, as well as in professions such as civil engineering, and digital and business administration.