Feeling secure

19 February 2017

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) discusses the value of apprenticeships in today’s world.

IN RECENT years it has been observed that there is a skills gap in the fire and security sectors, which can ultimately increase salary costs for security firms. Recognising the need for better quality apprenticeships in order to bridge the skills gap in the industry, a Trailblazer Employer Group was formed in order to create a standard for a fire, emergency and security systems technician. 
The standard was created by thirteen employers: Abel Alarm Co Ltd, Christie Alarm, AAI Security, CSL, Kings Security, Chubb Fire and Security, Secom, Amalgamated Ltd, Wessex Fire and Security, Banham, BDS Fire, Pointer Ltd and Stanley Security Solutions. Throughout its development, employers from within the fire and security sectors were given the opportunity to provide an input on what they would like to see from apprentices and the most effective ways for them to be assessed in order to ensure the highest quality of training.

The Trailblazer, which is a level 3 apprenticeship, was developed with the support of the BSIA, Fire Industry Association (FIA) and the Fire and Security Association (FSA), along with other industry stakeholders, and gained government approval last year. This is a positive step for both the fire and security industries, as the standard will enhance the skills of apprentices as they learn to design, install, commission and maintain electronic systems. 

The apprentices will be assessed throughout the Trailblazer, which will typically take 36 months to complete, along with a thorough end point assessment. The Trailblazer aims to equip apprentices with an array of core knowledge and skills, including health and safety, electrical and electronic principles, practices and procedures, core systems, system technologies and environmental principles, as well as customer service, communication and commercial awareness. 

As well as the launch of the new Trailblazer, the way the government will be funding apprenticeships in England is also changing, meaning employers with a payroll of over £3 million each year will be required to contribute 0.5% of their payroll into their new apprenticeship levy pot in an effort to get more businesses to invest in apprenticeships. Employers will then be given an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment, which will be paid in monthly instalments through a new Digital Apprenticeship System. This allowance can then be used to pay for quality apprenticeships, with the government contributing an additional 10% to the monthly funds.  
This new reform, which will come into effect as of 1 May 2017, hopes to increase employer demand for apprenticeships, as the employer will now have control of the content and assessment of the apprenticeship through the Trailblazer scheme, as well as the funding available. When choosing training, however, it is important to select an apprenticeship that is delivered against an approved framework or standard with an approved training provider and assessment organisation. 
Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATA) can also play a huge part in supporting employers in managing apprenticeship programmes, with more security businesses outsourcing the management of apprenticeship delivery to a trusted partner. ATA’s help expand your talent pool via unique apprentice employment solutions. As the apprenticeship world evolves, engaging with an outsourced provider to support the management of the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) system may help free your business from the associated costs and operational resources required to run apprenticeships. 
It is promising to see new initiatives that encourage apprenticeships within the industry, as apprenticeships are a vital way to enhance the skills of the younger generation. It is important that apprenticeships are seen as a positive, valuable pathway to a successful career that will not only benefit the apprentice but the business and overall industry as well. By investing in good quality training and apprentices, we are investing in the future of the industry and maintaining a high quality standard of those employed in the sector. 
For more information on The British Security Industry Association, visit