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This month Simon Banks talks to Luke Gunn, Technical Training Manager at Marlowe Fire & Security Group. Luke's role includes managing the Apprenticeship Technical Training via the Marlowe Academy.

How did your journey into the Fire and Security sector start?

I started as an apprentice at Swift Fire & Security since acquired by Marlowe, 15 years ago. After I left sixth form college, I knew I wanted to get into electronics. The obvious route was to become an electrician. However, a family friend and now Marlowe colleague, Darron Gee, suggested I look at the Fire & Security sector. I loved my apprenticeship, although compared to today’s standards, there was a real lack of structure to the programme. I mostly spent time on site as a trainee. It was security-focused, but with some fire projects as well.

Can you tell us about the Marlowe Academy?

Today we have 30 engineer apprentices in our Academy. Our apprenticeship course is operated in partnership with Skills for Security. They help us to deliver the FESS Trailblazer to our Apprentices, whilst at the same time we can provide them with training on the ‘Marlowe Way’. Marlowe Fire & Security Group incorporates several brands, and the Academy is very much a ‘Group’ initiative, with input provided by teams across the business. Marlowe Academy’s strategy is to provide support and development for everyone across the Group, not just our engineers. Whilst my focus is on supporting our technical teams, our support and leadership colleagues also receive regular development via the Academy. This is all part of the Group’s ACE (Attract/Cultivate/Engage) People plan, with our Learning and Development Manager overseeing those developments.

Are apprentices worth the investment?

Yes! We have a known skills shortage in our sector and for a large provider like Marlowe, it can be difficult to find the engineers, particularly the multidisciplined engineers we require. We want to combat this by investing in our people and growing a sustainable workforce. Today our apprentices form an essential part of our workforce and many are moving up the career ladder within Marlowe. Due to the success of our apprentice programme, we have also expanded it to include taking on trainees, such as training ex-forces staff. 

How do apprentices compare to other more experienced engineers?

I find that apprentices can embrace and understand new technology and innovations, which is exciting for us as a business. It helps us to understand how we can evolve and expand our business offerings and capabilities, understanding that technology underpins this. Our experienced engineers have fantastic skills and knowledge which means we have a diverse workforce for our range of services and a great team of supportive engineers keen to help newer apprentices find their feet and embrace their new roles. Some of the older systems we manage or inherit are using technology that is no longer sold, so it is challenging to train newer staff on these systems. The importance of maintaining a diverse team means we can meet the needs of all our customers which gives us strength as an industry leader.

YOU SAID IT! 

"Super product (MiniAir 2). Easy swap out."

George Grundy (McElwaine Security) – LinkedIn – 20 April

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