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10-02-21

Minister meets Fire Service Apprentices to mark National Apprenticeships Week  

The Minister for Building Safety and Communities and Fire Lord Stephen Greenhalgh has hosted a virtual meeting with apprentices from across the UK fire and rescue service to mark the start of National Apprenticeships Week.

Ten fire service employees, who are currently undertaking or have recently completed apprenticeships in a variety of disciplines, were invited to join a 30-minute virtual meeting with the Minister on Monday (8 February).

They spoke about their fire service journey so far, and how the apprenticeship programme has helped them realise their career goals – including providing many of them the opportunity to retrain after moving from other industries and sectors.

Six fire-specific apprenticeships have been either made available or are in development in England, including Operational Firefighter, Community Safety Advisor and Emergency Services Call Handler.  Other existing apprenticeships have been utilised in areas such as admin and executive support, ICT, Human Resources and management development.

To date, more than 1,100 fire service employees have completed apprenticeships since the programme was rolled out in 2018; another 1,200 are under way.  This is as a result of a two-year programme of work by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to develop the apprenticeships and support FRSs in their introduction and on-going implementation.

The delivery of a newly enhanced end-point assessment service for fire and rescue services, which was developed by the NFCC in partnership with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), has further strengthened the commitment to the use of apprenticeships as a route of entry.  Under the EPA Partnership, Cornwall FRS will continue to offer end-point assessments for the operational firefighter apprenticeship and retain their registration with the Education and Skills Funding Agency. 

Ann Millington, Chief Executive at Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Chair of the NFCC’s Workforce Co-ordination Committee said: “It is really encouraging to see so many fire and rescue services in England committing to providing support for the apprenticeship programme and benefitting from the many opportunities they provide services as ‘employers of choice’.

Apprenticeships present opportunities to improve diversity and inclusivity within the workforce, by offering entry routes to people from all backgrounds, regardless of experience and educational attainment.

“They also provide retraining and career progression opportunities for those who are already working within the fire sector, enabling them to reach their full potential and providing a sound base of skills and attributes within the service.”

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher said: “The number of fire and rescue service staff now engaged in apprenticeships is extremely rewarding and is testament to the work undertaken by NFCC in establishing the programme, supporting services to deliver it, and providing a structured process and gateway to individuals’ success.

“I firmly believe that our apprentices have a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our services and are integral to their development and on-going improvement journey; I look forward to seeing the number of apprenticeship opportunities in fire and rescue services continuing to grow.”

Fire Minister Lord Greenhalgh said: “I was delighted to meet these apprentices to hear first-hand their motivation for joining fire and rescue services across the country. I was fascinated by the wide range of skills they all bought to their roles.

“Fire and Rescue Services are full of hardworking, selfless public servants and apprenticeship schemes are an innovative route to bringing talented people from diverse backgrounds into the workplace, giving them hands-on experience and training. These future leaders are ready, willing and able to serve and protect their communities.

“Fire and rescue services have embraced the opportunities that apprenticeship schemes provide and I want to thank them for all the work they have done to get more people into fantastic roles in fire.”

Notes

A Government White Paper introducing new targets for public sector apprenticeships led to the increased use of apprenticeships as an opportunity to bring in new employees to the fire and rescue sector.

The introduction of fire-specific apprenticeships was led by the NFCC’s Central Programme Office (CPO) through its People Programme.

They are:

  • Operational Firefighter
  • Business Safety Advisor
  • Community Safety Advisor
  • Emergency Services Contact Handler
  • Fire Safety Inspector
  • Fire Safety Engineer (in development)

The NFCC’s CPO continues to support fire and rescue services in the implementation and successful completion of apprenticeships in a variety of different disciplines and roles.

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