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February 21, 2023


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Building in positive and sustainable change in fire & security with apprenticeships

With news of the rising prominence of apprenticeship schemes, Mandy Bowden, Comelit-PAC Fire Manager discusses her involvement in National Apprenticeship Week 2023, which took place between 6-12 February. She highlights how the wider fire and security industry can get involved to develop the workforce and inspire the next generation of talent.


Mandy Bowden, Comelit-PAC Fire Manager, attending a National Apprenticeship Week 2023 event at Wirral Metropolitan College

This National Apprenticeship week I hope more people learn about the incredible opportunities available in everything from engineering to accountancy, healthcare to gaming software development. Whatever your career goals, an apprenticeship can help you achieve them, with degree and masters levels available.”

Announcing the plans to enable young people to search and apply for apprenticeships on UCAS during National Apprenticeship Week, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan pledged to develop a “one-stop-shop where young people can compare the full range of occupations, training and education opportunities available to them.”

Within this, security and fire safety are dynamic industries, and there are plenty of opportunities for a fulfilling and rewarding career. We have a duty to support all those considering it as an option to inspire and create training strategies to provide a structured career progression path.

We need to value the opportunity to encourage job-specific skills to achieve more of our customer demands, quickly and efficiently. And we would encourage others in the fire and security industry to consider the same outlook.

Role of apprentices – Fire safety

Apprentices have proven crucial to solving issues such as the skills shortage in the industry. People have no long-term experience and there has been a lack of engineers understanding the specific disciplines of the industry, instead being trained as ‘multi-disciplined’, which often does not suit the intricacy of design, especially in fire safety.

Apprentices provide us with a new dimension to hone skills and an ability to adapt to new innovations, while embracing smarter, modern technologies.

In fire safety, there is an essential way apprentices can rise to a challenge and requirements for a clear understanding to help combat the findings such as those of Dame Judith Hackitt, which highlighted the shortcomings in the wider sector following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Find out more about the apprenticeship standard here: All you need to know about the FESS apprenticeship standard in fire and security

New apprentices will also be coming in at a critical time for fire safety, with the introduction of the Fire Safety Act and the regulations that came into force on 23 January 2023. There is also the Building Safety Act 2022 with new responsibilities on building owners.

The whole of our industry needs to work together to provide and develop the technical competence held by its existing operatives, so we can work on making such tragedies a thing of the past. New apprentices, with an ambition to learn a trade, can embrace the opportunity for change.

Driving inclusion

Apprentices at Wirral Metropolitan College

Apprentices build on the creation of our positive business culture, upon which all our sustainable growth resides.

They have witnessed the breaking down of barriers, especially to women in fire safety where we progress on our journey of balanced representation. We can highlight the positive movements of the Institute of Fire Engineers’ Women’s Conference and celebrate the contribution that women are making.

Bringing this together, it was my pleasure during Apprenticeship Week 2023 to use my voice, to present to a group of Apprentices with Moreton Alarms Supplies (MAS) Limited. Taking place at Wirral Metropolitan College, we engaged with three groups of students who expressed a real interest in exploring a pathway into fire alarm engineering.

By doing this in Apprenticeship Week, it was the perfect opportunity to get people thinking about how we can bring the next generation into a career path for the future, or help other individuals make that career change. And now it is over we must continue to encourage this mindset.

Supporting those with a real interest in fire safety to take the next step is something we are keen at Comelit-PAC to promote, with an aim to inspire apprentices to see the industry as a home for their long-term career ambitions. In an industry crying out for the next generation of Fire Systems Engineers, this can only be a positive step in the right direction.

As our Comelit-PAC, Managing Director Francesca Boeris, says: “We all need to do more in helping to upskill the next generation and encourage them to join this great industry.”


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