Engineers of Tomorrow competition: How we’re tackling the skills gap

Richard Jenkins

CEO, National Security Inspectorate (NSI)

Author Bio ▼

Richard Jenkins, chief executive of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), the UK’s leading, independent third party certification (TPC) body within the security systems, fire safety and guarding services sectors, helping to protect homeowners, businesses, public organisations and the general public through rigorous audit of more than 1800 fire safety and security providers nationwide.
August 8, 2019

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Advances in technology of security and fire systems combined with a shortage of competent engineers is a significant challenge for today’s security and fire sector.

With the rate of technological advancement set to increase, the sector is actively taking steps to help address the shortfall of skilled engineers.

The engineer shortage

Research from a bespoke extension of Working Futures 2014-2024 forecasts demand in engineering enterprises, including security and fire safety installation companies, for 265,000 skilled entrants annually through to 2024, of which around 186,000 will meet both replacement and expansion demand. Projected supply is expected to fall short of this by at least 20,000 new entrants per year (excluding any Brexit effect) unless action is taken.

Engineers of Tomorrow (EoT)

The highly respected Engineers of Tomorrow (EoT) competition is designed to recognise and showcase the next generation of security and fire systems installers from across the UK. Hosted every year at IFSEC International, Europe’s leading integrated security event, the competition helps to raise the profile of engineering apprenticeships and the opportunity they represent within the sector.

Effective from 2019, competitors win their places at EoT by taking part in regional heats around the country, organised by those colleges offering the Trailblazer apprenticeship for Fire, Emergency and Security Systems. NSI has been a stakeholder in EoT for more than 20 years ago and its auditors help to design and adjudicate the competition.

Working in pairs, the apprentices are given a time-limited exercise to programme and commission an intruder alarm or fire detection and alarm system. A series of faults are placed on the systems for the competitors to identify and rectify.  Those working on the intruder alarm system are required to have understanding of PD 6662 and BS 8243, the industry standards for police response systems.

Similarly, for the fire competition, an understanding of BS 5839-1, the Code of Practice for, Design, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Fire Detection and Alarm Systems in Non-Domestic Premises, is required. Competitors are scored against a checklist relating to compliance, workmanship and safe working practices.

The highest scorers from across the three days of the competition are invited to attend the Security Excellence Awards in London in November, when the overall first, second and third place winners are announced.

What next for EoT?

Whilst EoT is helping to raise the profile of apprenticeships in the security and fire sectors, there is still more to do to explain the opportunity and to encourage those in full-time education and those working in other sectors, into the industry as it offers a positive and fulfilling career choice.

To this end, a new collaboration has been formed between EoT and WorldSkills Live, the UK’s largest annual interactive apprenticeships and skills event.

With an international arm, WorldSkills Live pro-actively targets schools to promote the value of a range of careers, in a variety of industry sectors including engineering and technology and hosts a competition that pitches the UK’s top apprentices against their overseas counterparts.

Looking ahead to 2020, plans are already underway to use the existing EoT competition as the platform for selecting the most competent Fire, Emergency and Security Systems apprentices for future World Skills competitions.

Find out more about apprenticeships and the colleges offering the sectors’ Trailblazer apprenticeship at Apprentices for Fire & Security.

 

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