I joined CIEEM’s first cohort of the Early Careers Training Programme (ECPT) in 2022 after starting as an Assistant Ecologist. I applied to gain a good baseline of skills to feel less overwhelmed – sometimes being a data scientist, author, lawyer, cartographer, and surveyor all in one day! Completing these courses has made me feel that CIEEM and my company are investing in me and my ecology career, and this has inspired me to continue learning and developing new skills. I enjoyed engaging and networking with other similar early career ecological-minded people from different companies.
The five core modules upskilled us to a good baseline to continue developing during work. The first was a residential looking at Professional Practice, Professional Ethics, Ways of Working and Communication Skills. I found the Introduction to UK Nature Conservation Legislation very useful to get back to basics and understand the various ecological legislation and laws and how to practically apply these. Same as the Introduction to Preliminary Ecological Appraisal course, which provided a good basic introduction to the purpose and process of a PEA, including proportionate recommendations for design changes, further survey, mitigation, and enhancement in different scenarios. This went together well with the Habitat Survey and Mapping module which had a useful coverage of survey planning and methodology, including Phase 1 and UK Hab. Finally, bringing these modules together, the Introduction to Ecological Report Writing was immensely useful outlining the challenges in report writing and giving top tips to avoid common pitfalls of report writing.
Once the core modules are completed, five more optional modules are chosen from the list of current CIEEM training modules, these range from GIS, survey techniques, species mitigation, legislation, and many other options. I’m looking forward to starting my optional modules that I have chosen which were the Introduction to the Rivers and Streams Metric for Biodiversity Net Gain, Reptiles Ecology, Surveys, and Mitigation, Using Bioacoustics for Field Survey, and Biodiversity Metric V4.0 Training. These will all be useful for the kind of projects I work on, but the wide range of options can be easily catered to your interests and career development aims.
The greatest overall benefits from this ECTP were being able to network with other early-career ecologists and environmental managers and knowledgeable trainers who were happy to answer questions and provided a lot of valuable support. Coming after COVID, it was also refreshing to have plenty of in-person and field-based courses, rather than only online video meetings. After this course of modules, I feel that more confident that I have the basics of ecological work, especially report writing including legislation. These now feel more manageable to me, after talking through struggles it was nice to hear that others also struggled with similar issues and I feel like my work has improved too since doing these modules.
We are now accepting bookings on the 2024 April intake of the Early Careers Training Programme.
Written by Jen Jones
Jen is an Assistant Ecologist at JBA Consulting, a CIEEM Registered Practice that operates across most of the UK. Her working experience extends across a wide range of terrestrial habitats and species. Jen is an avid biological recorder, specialising in insect and invertebrate species and is a member of the Royal Entomological Society and other professional organisations.
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