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Case study: support staff apprenticeship

Business and Administration Apprentice: James Russell


My name is James Russell and I’ve recently started an Advanced Apprenticeship programme in Business and Administration in the Training and Development department, the programme consists of a Technical Certificate Level 3, Key Skills in Communication Level 2 and Application of Number Level 2 and an NVQ Level 3.

It also involves a great deal of employer tailoring – courses relevant to me and the job I perform. I’ll be training on specialist software and have recently attended my corporate induction day. My Respecting diversity course is booked in August for me to attend.

My Role

The administration office in T&D has lovingly been called “The Hub”, which after working in here for just over a month, I can see why. The administration and correspondence of all of the training courses that are offered at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue goes through this office and often we are inundated with emails and requests. However, despite such a large work load, I have a great time and really enjoy my work. This is mainly due to the people in and around the office which generates a great work ethic that’s balanced with hard work and conversations, with everyday being different, giving me the opportunity to meet new people.

The Team

In the office, I have my own desk and I’m line-managed by Andrea Bryan - the Training Co-ordinator. We work as a great team and keep each other informed of the ever-changing courses and nominations. I deal with the courses offered by the Fire Service College along with the standard administration duties. This has helped to develop my computer skills using spreadsheets and my communication skills and confidence by speaking to different people either on the telephone or face to face.

Andrea is very open to any new ideas that I have, and encourages me to try out and implement new systems, such as new filing systems and even allowing me to produce a prototype of a new nomination process which I am currently developing. As well as myself and Andrea there is also Jamie Richards in the office who deals with ‘Assessment andDevelopment Centres’ (ADCs), and although his role is separate from ours, we still get on great and help each other when needed.

The Practical

The admin office is often involved in the courses, and not just paperwork, helping with setting up courses, monitoring candidates and even volunteering to help with exercises. In my first week, I was asked if I wanted to be a casualty in one of the exercises for the Road Traffic Collision module. I jumped at the opportunity and was soon lying inside an upturned car. The experience was great, but quite frightening as I experienced first hand the procedures used by Firefighters to rescue a person from a wrecked car.

After arriving at the car, the trainee’s sprang into action, with two teams carrying out two different methods to get me out of the car, whilst I was checked over for injuries by another trainee. One team was set the task of using the hydraulic tools to remove the passenger car door and window, whilst the other removed the boot and rear seats. After several minutes the course director told the trainees in 30 seconds I would go in arrest and they needed to get me out. Suddenly, I was pulled from the car through the boot securely strapped to a Spinal board. It was a really valuable experience not only to give me an insight into the training but also to highlight the importance of driving responsibly.

My Personal Opinion

Although I have only been in this role for little over a month I have experienced the wide range of activity that goes on in our department. I feel settled and have been made to feel very welcome which I really appreciate. I am looking forward to the next two years, completing the necessary qualifications and developing my Business and Administration skills.