Trailblazing times and apprentice opportunities

Posted On 27 Feb 2017
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The Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Trailblazer scheme was officially launched in late February and it is welcome news. PSI Editor Andy Clutton was in London for the announcement.

After two years and over 1000 hrs of meetings and discussion groups the new apprentice scheme aimed at bringing more young talent into the security industry has arrived. The Trailblazer campaign itself was first revealed in 2013 along with the government target of 3 million apprentices by 2020. The scheme for security and fire installers was presented a few years later but received such a low funding cap that the people behind the project felt it was not adequate enough to make the procedure of taking on apprentices an appealing choice for employers. Once the SFA was made aware that the new proposed scheme was of a higher level than previous methods of improving skills this cap was raised to £18,000.

Speaking at the launch, Pat Allen, Director of Abel Alarms and Chairman of the FSA (one of the main supporters of the scheme alongside organisations including BSIA and FIA) said: “The Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Trailblazer programme provides a unique opportunity for a specialist sector like ours to develop our own apprentices with the skills our industry needs. We need to inspire for the future to get the engineers of tomorrow.”

The scheme itself is dedicated to bringing apprentices through a defined syllabus over 24 months with a final twelve months in the specified role (fire, security, fire and security or fire and emergency lighting).

Also speaking at the launch, Simon Banks, MD of CSL and the co-founder of the Apprentices for Fire and Security campaign said that the driver behind his scheme is to raise awareness about the importance of apprentices and outline the choices that school leavers have. He told the audience that the security and fire industry currently needs 30,000 more skilled technicians: “Our greatest challenge, next to employer engagement, is the number of available classrooms. We would like to have eight colleges on board however we are aiming to ultimately have over 100 to give us national coverage as well as distance learning courses from trainers such as Tavcom.”

According to Simon the most common question he gets asked about apprentices from employers is “How much will it cost me?” so a pocket guide has been put together explaining about funding and costs for installation companies interested in bringing on the next generation of talent. The booklet will be available at the NSI Summit in Birmingham on 30th March.

“Now is the time to enable the 30,000 apprentices we need,” says Simon. “All barriers have been removed and it is now easier than ever for employers to get the young talent they need.”

I’m sure that if you have ever tried to take on new engineers you will have experienced first-hand the skills shortage facing the sector. There are so many benefits in taking on apprentices that we urge all employers to grab a copy of the booklet at the NSI Summit and start the process of bringing on the next generation of engineers. Take this opportunity to influence the future of the industry.