This month Simon Banks talks to David Scott, Curriculum & Quality Leader for Built Environment and Securities at New College Lanarkshire. The college has over 140 apprentices currently completing the Modern Apprenticeship in Electronic Fire and Security Systems.
You have over 140 apprentices on the 3-year course. To what do you owe this success?
We are always pushing boundaries. We never teach strictly to a syllabus, but vary it to suit what the industry needs. We teach the students about the latest systems, standards and equipment. All of this isn’t cheap, but we have fantastic support from partners – including CSL – who regularly donate their time and equipment to help train the students. We also have 9 dedicated staff involved in training and delivery of the courses. They all come from the industry. In fact, 5 of them completed the same Apprenticeship course. All the training is provided by competent engineers, some of whom own companies and are still on the tools themselves, which really helps us to remain current.
How important are your relationships with local companies?
The support of our employers is vital to our success. We have students from Aberdeen to Dumfries that travel weekly to attend the course. That can work out at an 8-hour round trip, so employers clearly see the value! Over 70 companies send us a consistent flow of students and have been supporters of the programme since I joined the college in 2011 including: SPIE, FES, CHUBB, ADT, CSS, Alarmfast and Video Watchmen. We also have some students who join without an employer. We then approach our partner companies to ensure all our students find full-time employment.
What would your advice for other colleges be?
Don’t teach the apprentices what you think they need to know, teach them what the industry needs them to know. Engage with local companies and you will see the demand is there! It can be time consuming but it really is worth it. Also engage with local schools. There are young people out there looking for a career in our industry, they just need to know it is available. Build momentum and over time word will spread and the numbers will rise. There are some initial costs but suppliers and partners in the industry are willing and ready to help. Additionally, get involved in the industry. Events such as the NSI Summit & IFSEC are your opportunities to advertise your college to your local companies.
You have continued to support Engineers of Tomorrow (EoT) held annually at IFSEC in London. Why is the competition so important to you?
Attending IFSEC in London is a fantastic opportunity for us to update our knowledge on the new technologies and standards and of course engage with the industry. It is another opportunity for us to meet with our partners, thanking them for their continued support and perhaps even identify some new ones. The EoT Competition is vital in our engineers’ development. It really separates those that are good and those that are brilliant! It’s what it’s all about, challenging their strengths and weaknesses and putting them under real-life constraints that they would face daily in work, it really is amazing.
You said it!
“Virtual Security Ltd enjoyed some training on the UDL and the GradeShift Range from CSL today. Thanks Wesley Chidgey and Daisy Collins for your assistance and product knowledge, we’re all set for remote connection and maintenance moving forward.”
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