Pilot ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship scheme launched for prison officers at HMP Oakwood

HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton

HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton

New prison officers joining HMP Oakwood near Wolverhampton are the first officers in the country to trial a nationally-developed ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeship programme. The pilot will see new recruits coached and mentored through their first 12-months in the job. For the first time, this will result in a nationally-recognised qualification.

Ten new recruits and one existing officer at the facility, which is managed by security company G4S (and run in partnership with the Babington Group, which provides management training for those on the scheme), will be the first officers anywhere in the country to take part in the programme. They’ll be followed by 16 new recruits at HMP Birmingham.

The pilot scheme across both prisons will trial the new standards for prison officers, which have been developed by prison providers and experts from organisations across the country including G4S, the Ministry of Justice and other private providers and Government departments. The employer-led programme at HMP Oakwood and HMP Birmingham will be looked at closely by other prisons around the country.

Jane Shannon, head of organisational development for G4S custodial and detention services, explained: “This is the first time an employer-led qualification for a custody apprenticeship has been tested anywhere in the UK. We’re delighted to be blazing a trail in developing recognised skills and qualifications for people working in secure settings. Developing the right skills and training is vital in nurturing the next generation of prison officers and leaders. We’ll be looking closely at the impact of the additional training involved which focuses on the key skills that new officers develop in the early years of their careers, such as rehabilitation and conflict resolution, violence reduction techniques and teamwork.”

Shannon added: “With additional support and greater guidance for these new officers, we very much hope that those taking part in the pilot will flourish and have long careers in the custody sector.”

John McLaughlin, director at HMP Oakwood, stated: “The feedback from the initial sessions of the pilot has been fantastic, with managers explaining that they can see with great clarity the valuable support that this will provide new members of staff. Previously, new recruits would have a nine-week training course when they first joined and refresh their knowledge regularly throughout their career. The goal of the pilot is to have all new officers on this longer apprenticeship scheme to cement that knowledge, monitor progress and help to develop and guide them through the early stages of their career.”

A ‘Trailblazer’ (or employer-led) programme is made up of a group of employers who work together to design new apprenticeship standards for occupations within their specialist sector.

*Prison officers who complete this pilot and subsequent scheme will receive a Level 3 apprenticeship qualification, which is deemed equivalent to two ‘A’ Level passes

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014.

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