solving the skills crisis

Engineers of Tomorrow apprentice competition marks 20th anniversary with new fire category

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
August 22, 2018

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A competition in which engineering apprentices install security systems against the clock has celebrated its 20th edition at IFSEC International 2018 with a new fire category.

Working in pairs, 60 young engineers had 90 minutes in which to install and find faults with intruder alarm systems and, for the first time, fire alarm systems.

The introduction of a fire category followed a successful trial in 2017 and aligned the competition more closely with a new apprenticeship standard – the ‘Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Technicians Apprenticeship’ – developed by the Trailblazer Employer Group with the support of the FSA, BSIA, FIA and other key industry stakeholders.

Moves to create and promote a clearer career path in security and fire system engineering have been driven by a severe skills shortage in the sector.

Engineers of Tomorrow, which took place over three days at London ExCeL (19-21 June), also benefited from a revamp of the competition booths.

A presentation for the winners and runners-up was held at the end of each day in IFSEC 2018’s Keynote Arena (watch footage of the presentation below).

Heat winners: intruder alarms

  • Day one winners: Aaron Wilson & Stuart McLuskie, New College Lanarkshire
  • Day one runners-up: Tomasz Gajewaik & George Weymouth, Yeovil College
  • Day two heat winners: Max Florey & Josh Dunn, Chris Lewis Fire & Security
  • Day two runners-up: Andy Tham & Stuart McLuskie, New College Lanarkshire
  • Day three heat winners: Sam Howard & Jamie Rodd, EFT Systems Ltd
  • Day three runners-up: Jianfeng Chen & Sam Reynolds, Trinity Fire & Security

Heat winners: fire alarms

  • Day one winners: Andy Tham & Steven Flanigan, New College Lanarkshire
  • Day one runners-up: Oliver Coles & Will Ferrell, Trinity Fire and Security Systems
  • Day two heat winners: Aaron Wilson & Stuart McLuskie, New College Lanarkshire
  • Day two runners-up: Jose Rodrigues & Joshua Casey, Chubb Fire & Security
  • Day three heat winners: Jamie  Rodd & Sam Howard, EFT Systems Ltd
  • Day three runners-up: Scott Hurford & Joe Smith, Code Security Systems Ltd

Participating firms and colleges

  • Abel Alarm Ltd
  • Assured Fire & Security
  • Belfast Met
  • Chris Lewis Fire & Security
  • Chubb Fire & Security
  • CIA Fire and Security
  • Code Security Systems Ltd
  • EFT Systems Ltd
  • Kings Security Systems Ltd
  • NME Services
  • Trinity Fire and Security Systems
  • Yeovil College

Stakeholders said

Simon Banks, Group MD of CSL, commented: “EoT showcases the skills needed to keep the security industry alive. Without these skills we can’t deploy the new and exciting technology that will breathe life into our sector. EoT plays a vital role in promoting the engineers that will propel the security sector into this exciting new world.”

Alex Carmichael, chief executive of SSAIB, commented: “The Engineers of Tomorrow competition is central for both of these industries. The apprentice engineers at IFSEC this year may become the service managers, engineering managers, engineering directors and even MDs of tomorrow. They will set the professionalism and standards of this industry and, hopefully, one of them will be standing in my shoes in the future.

“Our industry should attract capable and dedicated young people who want a career in a highly specialised, diverse industry and the apprenticeship is the main route for a full-life fire and security career.”

Richard Jenkins, CEO of NSI, commented: “For 20 years this competition has served to shine a light on the value of the apprenticeship programme. Technology continues moving at pace. Those embracing Engineers of Tomorrow in their businesses gain the benefit of well-trained technicians adding value for customers.

Increasing numbers of academies and colleges of further education are now delivering a new and more relevant curriculum so well qualified young engineers and apprentices better meet employers’ needs in the security industry. The Engineers of Tomorrow competition, reflecting the capabilities of apprentices, is an excellent platform for the industry to showcase its talent of the future.”

“Taking on apprentices is a positive way to grow, upskill and reposition your business for the future.” James Kelly, Chief Executive, BSIA

James Kelly, Chief Executive of The BSIA (British Security Industry Association), commented: “We must encourage businesses to recruit and train young talent to fill the engineering shortage. The Engineers of Tomorrow Competition provides an excellent platform to showcase to employers the benefits of apprenticeships. Additionally, it highlights the range of pathways and opportunities within security to a more diverse pool of young individuals seeking a rewarding career.

“The BSIA vigorously promote apprenticeships with our stakeholder partners and through our training arm Skills for Security. Funding options are available through the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Scheme to help employers train apprentices. Taking on apprentices is a positive way to grow, upskill and reposition your business for the future. Apprentice installers are the future of this industry – we should do everything possible to help them uphold the highest standards and grow their skillsets.”

About Engineers of Tomorrow

Working in pairs – not always from the same company – competitors in the Engineers of Tomorrow competition attempt to install and commission an alarm system within 90 minutes. Auditors from fire and security certification bodies NSI and SSAIB then award points based on a number of measures.

Overall heat winners and their employers are invited to the Security & Fire Excellence Awards, next taking place at London Hilton on Park Lane on 21 November 2018. Cash prizes are awarded to the overall winners (£1,000), runners-up (£500) and for third place (£300). The winners also earn NVQ portfolio credits.

Engineers of Tomorrow stakeholders are CSL, NSI, SSAIB and Skills for Security, while the initiative is also supported by the FSA, FIA and BAFE.

IFSEC International will soon publish details on how to enter Engineers of Tomorrow 2019.

About Apprentices for Fire and Security

Engineers of Tomorrow gave rise to the 100 in 100 initiative seven years ago. Now called Apprentices for Fire and Security (A4FS) this initiative successfully achieved the placement of 100 security apprentices in roles within the sector, in 100 days. A4FS, which was co-founded by Skills for Security and CSL Group MD Simon Banks, has now helped launch the careers of many thousands of young apprentices in the fire and security industries.

Whether you’re an employer future-proofing your workforce in a market where skills are scarce or a young person seeking a rewarding career in a growth industry, A4FS can match you with a vacancy or candidate in an array of fields: engineering, IT, product design, marketing, sales and more. Apprentices gain a recognised qualification and develop hands-on professional skills – all while earning a salary at some of Britain’s finest firms.

Lasting 1-4 years apprenticeships combine paid, skilled work with study for a work-based qualification at a college or training organisation – from GCSEs or equivalent up to degree level.

During its inaugural year the The Daily Telegraph described the security sector as a “booming marketplace with bright prospects and excellent retention rates”, while the initiative led to a roundtable at Westminster. Then Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “By conducting its own campaign to deliver more Apprenticeships, the security industry is giving ambitious young people the opportunity to build rewarding careers in the sector, and laying a firm foundation for sustained growth.”

Find out more about A4FS

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Lee Harling

Well done Sam & Jamie of EFT who are learners on block release training at Preston’s College.

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