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The boom in General National Vocational Qualifications could create severe difficulties for students over the age of 16 who have to integrate work-experience placements into their courses, a national park official has warned.

David Brinn, education officer for the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, says schools and colleges need to plan well ahead for those students keen to do work experience with conservation bodies, writes Nick Holdsworth.

His warning comes as increasing numbers of students seek practice-based attachments in the Brecon Beacons. "I am now receiving requests not only from local schools and colleges but from as far afield as France, Holland, Germany and even the former Iron Curtain countries," Mr Brinn said.

But last year the national park was able to offer only 24 placements - 16 to local students, two to teachers and the others to young people from the rest of the UK.

National park officials understood the need for students to supplement college studies with work experience but it meant extra work for wardens and other staff who help to organise the programmes.

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