Kickstarting my career with NRW’s help

I graduated from Swansea University in 2020, with a degree in Geography, I found myself right in the middle of the first Covid 19 lockdown.

With businesses closing and people working from home, I knew my search for a job would be difficult, however I didn’t realise how tough the competition for jobs had really become.

So, instead I decided  to pursue a postgraduate degree in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change, also at Swansea University.

Last year, I finished this degree and left university armed with all the qualifications I needed to find a job in my chosen field, but crucially with no working experience.

Despite having worked during my degree studies, in Domino’s and Tesco, to name a couple, I was intimidated by the professional job market, and slightly disheartened with many rejected applications, so I signed up for Universal Credit to support myself until I found a stable job.

My luck began to change when I saw the advert for Natural Resources Wales Kickstart Programme, and it captured my interest.

The UK Government’s Kickstart scheme provides paid job placement opportunities  for young people who are on Universal Credit and whose career opportunities had been hit by the economic and public health crises.

I started working for NRW as a Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR) researcher in December 2021.  

I was excited to begin my career in a renowned environmental agency and happy that I could finally put the knowledge gained through my studies into practice.

From my very first day in NRW, I felt supported and that they had my best interests at heart.

My role within NRW is to investigate the SMNR accreditation handbooks and try to pick out common themes that indicate where SMNR is being implemented successfully, where there are gaps and barriers and what can be done to overcome these barriers to ensure every employee adopts this way of working.

Some of the repeating themes we found throughout the organisation included successful protection of ecosystems as well as effective planning and monitoring of NRW work. On the other hand, we discovered gaps in data and information availability as well as knowledge/experience gaps across the organisation.

The main barriers limiting SMNR implementation tend to be poor communications with external bodies and stakeholders, and lack of resources – more specifically funding and time.

Most of the employees in our sample suggested that improved communications both within NRW and outside of NRW were the most important changes needed to better implement the principles of SMNR into their work. This, however, is only a general summary. Greater sampling is required for a more in-depth analysis.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with NRW so far, making a real contribution and carrying out meaningful work that has potential to create a more sustainable Wales

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