Pat Allen, chairman of the Fire and Security Association (FSA), provides an update on the development of the industry’s apprenticeship.
Last month an event was held at the UBM offices in London to mark the launch of the fire, emergency and security sector’s apprenticeship. The event was a collaboration between the employers group, the FSA, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and the British Security Industry Association (BSIA). It included speeches by Simon Banks of CSL Dualcom, and Gerry Dunphy – who runs the IFSEC and FIREX conferences.
Since the government approved our sector’s Standard and Assessment Plan and agreed our funding allocation, work has been underway to design the best possible syllabus for training providers, colleges and candidates.
As a result of significant work by all involved, we have been able to develop the first apprenticeship that reflects the common and specialist needs of fire, security and emergency systems businesses ─ something the industry has needed for many years.
As desired by the government, the material for the training syllabus has been provided by employers within the industry. This is on track to be finalised before most candidates start their training in September this year.
A new era
The delivery of the apprenticeship will be through a network of training providers, colleges, private academies and end point assessment centres. At the end of the course, apprentices will have the opportunity to apply through the IET for the relevant professional Engineering Technician (Eng Tech) accreditation.
This would mark a new era for the fire, emergency and security systems industry when it comes to recruitment. Historically, we’ve been reliant on recruiting electricians or carrying out in-house training to fill the vacancies. While this approach has worked, it’s not a comprehensive long term solution and has made us dependent on other industries, who also suffer skills shortages, to solve our recruitment needs. However, if we can offer structured training at entry level, the sector will be in a stronger position to attract the thousands of highly technically capable young people who leave schools and colleges every year.
But the benefits of appealing to a younger demographic and having a structured, employer-led apprenticeship won’t stop at our succession plan ─ it will also help our industry become recognised as a specialist engineering discipline within the electrotechnical, engineering and security industries.
How can businesses get involved?
Recruiting an apprentice is a significant financial commitment but the government has committed to offering a funding allocation worth up to £18,000. Furthermore, the government’s commitment to fund the full training costs of an apprentice aged 16−18 years old working at SMEs with fewer than 50 employees is also welcome. Ultimately, I hope these steps will encourage more firms in our industry to hire apprentices.
Those employers that want to get hiring won’t have long to wait. Once the syllabus and training plans are finalised we will be ready to accept most candidates in September. I am sure the industry’s employers will show the same enthusiasm towards recruitment as they did to developing the apprenticeship. Undoubtedly this is an exciting moment for the fire, emergency and security sector, and I urge all employers to utilise this opportunity to change our industry for the better.