31 August 2016


This month Simon Banks talks to Pat Allen, lead employer on the Fire, Emergency & Security Systems Trailblazer Employer Group, Director at Abel Alarm Company Limited and Chairman of the Fire & Security Association.

How does the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Trailblazer differ from the existing Apprenticeship?

The Trailblazer was employer driven, designed specifically to make the Apprenticeship more responsive to business needs and the demands of future technologies. It will have a synoptic end-point assessment and be graded for the very first time. The Apprentice achieving the end-point assessment will be able to apply for the relevant Professional Accreditation through IET (the Institution of Engineering and Technology) for Engineering Technician (Eng Tech) status. The delivery of the Apprenticeship will be through a national network of training providers, colleges, private company academies and endpoint assessment centres.

Why was the decision made to bring Fire, Emergency & Security Systems together?

Essentially they were already together within the existing Apprenticeship, but what this new qualification has done is realign focus on a more specialised and bespoke training programme, providing 4 options: Fire, Security, Fire & Security and Fire & Emergency Lighting. Ultimately this will enable the Apprenticeship to be more flexible as well as agile enough to meet the growing demand for skilled technicians across our sector.

Government Apprenticeship funding changes in April 2017, what does the new Apprenticeship levy mean for Employers?

This levy will motivate Employers to invest in Apprenticeships. I believe that they recognise the benefits that increased support for training could bring, with some seeing it as a solution to the skills gap that is currently affecting firms across the country. Only companies with an annual payroll of more than £3 million will have to pay the levy. Additionally, the government has just announced that it will fund 90% of the costs for Apprentice training for companies that don’t pay the levy, as well as the full cost for those who have fewer than 50 employees and are taking on 16-18 year olds. Hopefully these financial benefits will encourage employers of all sizes to invest in Apprenticeships.

How can Apprenticeships help change the Industry over the next five years?

Put simply, we have a huge skills gap in our industry. Finding talented young people is already a challenge and this shortage is likely to increase over the coming years if nothing is done. We have to change in order to attract talent to our sector and investing in Apprenticeships is an essential part of this. The technologies, knowledge and skills requirements of this Apprenticeship are significantly higher and at a more complex level than its predecessor. Our belief is that this will attract some of the highest calibre young people to our industry. This will then provide robust future proofing, with more skilled engineers working with advanced technologies, moving forward in IT, IP and smart mobile applications. Over the next 5 years, the Trailblazer programme will provide the opportunity for us to meet the needs of the industry as it becomes more technically complex in order to meet the ever-evolving customer and security requirements.

You Said It!

“Huge thanks to Wesley from @CSLDualCom for the insightful training this morning at our offices, some amazing kit on offer with ease of install” 

Tweeted by @ViperSecurityUK - August 9

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