Against a backdrop of economic austerity, rocketing youth unemployment and what might best be described as a challenging job market, young people working in the security sector are attempting to buck the trend and focus on long-term careers.
What’s more, so many are gaining skills along the way thanks to the security sector’s wholehearted support of its young apprentices.
As reported on Info4Security, National Apprenticeships Week ran from 6-9 February and it has prompted the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) to highlight the ongoing campaign across the UK’s security sector aimed at encouraging young people to consider a career in our domain.
Last year, the Trade Association supported the 100 in 100 campaign orchestrated by Skills for Security, CSL DualCom and UBM (in the shape of Info4Security and SMT Online). The initiative aimed to entice leading employers to collectively take on 100 new apprentices in just 100 days (essentially, in the time between launch at IFSEC 2011 and the Security Excellence Awards the following October).
Looking back on that campaign, Skills for Security’s CEO David Greer commented: “The success of the 100 in 100 apprenticeships campaign last year surpassed all our expectations. We celebrated the involvement of 155 new apprentices come October, but at Skills for Security the work continued and we now have 168 young people signed up for a career in the industry.”
Greer added: “We’re planning to improve on this in 2012 with the help of additional Government funding for small businesses, so watch this space for news of the next apprenticeships project.”
Capturing the consciousness of our sector
CSL DualCom’s commercial director Simon Banks explained: “The industry-first 100 in 100 campaign captured the consciousness of our sector. We actually exceeded our target of 100 anticipated placements by over 50%.”
He continued: “Our past and present determination to keep apprenticeships ubiquitous is driving our future plans. As a commercial business and active recruiter of apprentices, CSL DualCom fully appreciates the trade and sociological benefits on offer.”
On a hugely important note, Banks stated: “It’s not just the business world that’s calling out for a more skilled workforce with a practical mix of educational support. The otherwise disenfranchised young people drifting down the path of academia as ‘obligatory graduates’ now have another route open to them and the choice of a more realistic future framed by life-long skills. They’ll also have a salary replacing debt.”
With the coalition Government offering its full support to apprenticeships through new incentives, Banks believes a sea change that favours them is “a very real prospect” and a “win-win for all stakeholders”.
BSIA: commitment to the cause
Demonstrating a commitment to the cause, the BSIA has now appointed its own business administration apprentice in the shape of 18-year-old Rhian Brown.
After leaving school with 12 good GCSEs, Rhian was still unsure as to what career path she wanted to pursue. She embarked on a college course which, it soon became apparent, was not for her.
“I explored the idea of going to university but very quickly came to the conclusion that even if I had a degree I couldn't guarantee finding a job, and the thought of having to pay back a massive debt was very daunting. I then explored apprenticeship schemes, and the opportunity to learn on the job while earning a wage was very attractive.”
Rhian’s apprenticeship will take her around the business, giving her a broad base of experience and business knowledge from different departments. All the while she’ll be working towards NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in business administration.”
Rhian added: “As part of my course I will explore how a business runs, spending time in different departments so that once my apprenticeship is over I’ll be in a better position to make an informed decision about my future career path. In particular, I’m interested in event management, graphic design and marketing so I’m sure that the knowledge and skills I gain over the next two years will better equip me for making a choice.”
The youngster concluded: “I’m very grateful to the BSIA for investing in me, and I hope that I will be able to continue to pursue my career with them for many years to come. I would recommend apprenticeship schemes to any young person looking to gain skills, work experience and all-important qualifications.”
Investment in our sector's future
James Kelly, chief executive at the BSIA, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Rhian to our organisation and wish her every success, both in her new role and in her college course. The security sector is constantly evolving and, as such, an investment in young people is an investment in our sector’s future.”
Indeed, the BSIA’s support of young people in security extends even further with the nominations now open for the Association’s annual Apprentice Installer Awards.
This awards scheme recognises the achievements of second and third-year apprentices involved in the installation of alarms, CCTV, access control or a combination of those solutions and who work for a company that’s certified for installation activities by a UKAS-accredited body.
Kelly continued: “These awards recognise the elite of the security sector's apprentices and are a tribute to the dedication of new blood in our domain."
Companies wishing to nominate individuals for the Apprentice Installer Awards, which are sponsored by BSIA member company Pyronix, can do so by completing and submitting the nomination form on or before 30 March 2012.
Nomination forms are available from the BSIA’s Christine Brooks who can be contacted on (telephone) 0845 389 0743 or via e-mail at email@example.com
CIPD unveils detailed guidance for employers to boost quality of apprenticeships
New guidance from the CIPD will help employers across the UK ensure that Government funding for apprenticeships delivers for employers, individuals and society.
The guidance – which is designed to cement high quality apprenticeships as a viable alternative route into professions and occupations and give employers greater ownership of their delivery – was launched just prior to National Apprenticeship Week, which itself ran from 6-10 February.
Apprenticeships That Work has been developed by a Working Group including representatives from employers including Rolls Royce, Siemens, Capgemini, Marks and Spencer and West Sussex Council, as well as Trade Unions, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
It’s now available to download from the CIPD website.
The CIPD has created this guide to support its members, HR professionals and employers more generally in developing and running a high quality apprenticeship offering that responds to their skills needs.
Around a third of employers surveyed by the CIPD currently offer apprenticeships. Of those who don’t, most believe that apprenticeships are not appropriate for their organisation.
This new guide is designed to show employers of all sectors and sizes how they can make apprenticeships work for them. However, the CIPD is warning that quality is at least as important as quantity and apprenticeships will fail to meet aspirations unless:
- they are embedded in a workforce planning approach s part of a long-term strategy on workforce growth and skills development
- the role that apprentices play in the organisation and how they will be supported, particularly by their line manager, is made clear
- employers secure the support of the existing workforce and senior management as well as line managers and Trade Unions
- the training apprentices receive on and off the job is high quality and tailored to employer needs
- relationships with training providers are carefully managed
- alternative and more informal recruitment methods are considered, especially when likely candidates are very young and have no prior work experience
- employers understand the legal framework
- the apprentice is placed at the heart of the apprenticeships programme and employers provide ongoing support, pastoral care and mentoring
- employers provide fair access to their apprenticeships schemes and widen the talent pool from which they recruit in terms of gender, ethnicity and diversity
More balanced skills profile for the UK
Katerina Rüdiger, skills adviser at the CIPD who led the development of the guide, commented: “Good quality apprenticeships can offer an alternative, high quality route into work and help improve youth employability. They are also a useful tool to achieve a more balanced skills profile in the UK and respond to employer skills needs.”
Rüdiger added: “Recent Government policy has been to encourage more employers to offer apprenticeships, but if employers who’ve never hired apprentices before are being incentivised to do so, it’s vital that they receive the guidance they need to ensure the apprenticeships serve the needs of employers and employees alike.”
John Hayes, the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, explained: "Evidence shows that apprentices help boost productivity and give businesses a competitive edge, with most recouping their investment in less than three years. This new guide will help employers who haven't previously employed an apprentice take full advantage of all they can offer."
Colin Stanbridge, CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), outlined: “Apprenticeships are a great way to up-skill our labour market. However, the process of setting up an apprenticeship can often be overwhelming, especially for SMEs who find themselves bombarded with information from a variety of sources. What these firms need is high quality support and guidance throughout the process.”
In conclusion, he stated: “The CIPD’s guide to taking on an apprentice provides all the information a business needs in one place. Its step-by-step approach and easy to digest content enables employers to easily navigate through the guide and come out the other end ready to offer an apprenticeship.”
Dean Royles, chairman of the CIPD Board, director of the NHS Employers and National Apprenticeships Ambassador, had this to say on the matter...
“Apprenticeships are an effective means for employers to develop their own talent. They also offer a viable alternative to university for people looking for a direct and affordable route to skilled jobs and careers. The CIPD's new guide gives practical advice to help employers tailor quality apprenticeship programmes that provide an invaluable first step on the employment ladder for young people, and also develop existing employees throughout their careers.”