The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has approved the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard for the security and fire business sectors as well as the Emergency Systems world. The news comes at the same time the Government has announced radical changes to boost apprenticeships right across the UK.
For its part, the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard sets out the core competencies for apprentices who aspire to become a security, fire or Emergency Systems-focused technician. It’s expected to take 36 months to complete. Upon completion, candidates will be eligible to apply for membership of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) at EngTech level.
Without doubt, this news represents a significant development for the fire, security and emergency systems sectors.
The Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard was developed by a group of employers and industry stakeholders and put out for consultation by the industry in April of this year, prior to its submission to BIS in June. The next step to be taken is the creation of an assessment plan in support of the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard, which is scheduled for submission at the end of this year.
Skills minister Nick Boles commented: “Businesses are better placed than anyone to train the next generation of workers and will help us deliver three million high-quality apprenticeships by 2020. By designing apprenticeships, organisations like the Fire and Security Association and their group of employers are ensuring that young talented people develop the skills needed to ascend the career ladder and help drive businesses forward.”
Pat Allen, director of Abel Alarm and lead employer on the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Trailblazer Group, responded: “I’m delighted that BIS has approved our proposed Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard. The industry has repeatedly stated its desire to have a structured apprenticeship programme in place, and this has been developed by employers and key industry bodies to reflect the skills and competencies businesses need from their apprentices. This is the first apprenticeship that caters for the needs of both fire and security installation companies as it allows candidates to specialise depending on the needs of their employer’s business.”
Steve Martin, head of the Fire and Security Association (FSA), has also welcomed the approval of the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard: “This is a significant development for our industry and the businesses within it, and gives us an apprenticeship that’s designed and developed around the needs of employers and is recognised by the entire industry. Now that our Standard has been approved and we have a structured training programme at entry level, our industry will have a means of recruiting high calibre talent to fill its vacancies and help succession plan for the future. We will now be able to offer someone seeking a career in our industry a structured apprenticeship that will help them take the first towards becoming a qualified fire, security and emergency systems installer. It’s something we have needed for a long time.”
Martin added: “The FSA is proud to have contributed to the development of this apprenticeship standard through our work on the Stakeholder Group. We congratulate Pat Allen, our chairman, for his excellent work on this project. Without the efforts of Pat and the employers who helped develop the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard, it’s fair to say that it wouldn’t have been anything more than a pipe dream. ”
Package of plans unveiled by Government
In tandem with the Trailblazer news, Prime Minister David Cameron has outlined a package of radical plans to increase the number of quality apprenticeships across England, in turn giving businesses a say on how they are run and what they should and can offer.
Employers are being asked for their views on the introduction of an apprenticeship levy, set to be introduced in 2017 and designed to increase investment in training and apprenticeships.
Other steps outlined include a requirement to take a company’s apprenticeship offer into account when awarding large Government contracts and publishing new ‘industry standards’ – such as the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard – so that apprentices have the skills that companies need.
“The greatest asset any employer has is their workforce,” said the Prime Minister. “By investing in their employees, they are investing in the success and future of their business. As a one nation Government, we are committed to supporting three million quality apprenticeships over the next five years in order to help strengthen our economy, deliver the skills that employers need and give millions more hardworking people financial security as well as a brighter future.”
The amount that UK businesses have invested in training has fallen consistently over the last 20 years and UK productivity now lags behind other major Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Employers are now being urged to give their views on plans for an apprenticeship levy to boost investment in apprentices and skills training and make sure it meets their needs. Under the proposed approach, those employers who put in funds will have direct spending power over it.
Levy systems already operate in over 50 countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark and South Korea, and will ensure every larger company plays their part in investing in the future generation of apprenticeships. The levy will help cement the Government’s aim to build a world class apprenticeship system that’s led by employers.
Apprentices for Fire and Security initiative
Apprentices for Fire & Security has been created to encompass the hugely successful 100 in 100 apprenticeship drive, the Engineers of Tomorrow Competition held annually at IFSEC International and the Government’s Trailblazer initiative.
It aims to convince employers that young people can provide skills that may be lacking in their business. With the right career planning and succession path, apprentices can become a prized asset instrumental to the future of a business. If you are looking for an apprentice you can place your vacancy free of charge on www.apprentices4fs.com to be matched with potential candidates.
The initiative was founded back in 2011 as 100 in 100 by Simon Banks, group managing director of CSL DualCom, and is actively supported by Skills for Security, IFSEC International, the National Security Inspectorate and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board.
In the four years since its inception, Apprentices for Fire & Security has placed over 3,000 16-to-24 year olds into careers within the security sector ranging from engineering and IT through to product design, marketing and sales.
Simon Banks commented: “The widening skills gap is pushing up the salary costs for skills in our sector. Eventually, this cost will become untenable and will ultimately damage and restrict businesses.”
The initiative caught the eye of the national press in its inaugural year and also captured the attention of the Government which led to a round table discussion at Westminster with former skills minister Matthew Hancock.