An Apprentice scheme is delivering skills and opportunities for existing staff and future firefighters at Staffordshire’s fire service.
Apprenticeship standards can support many sectors to train and educate new and existing staff – delivered in a flexible way that allows us to futureproof our workforce by giving them some of the core skills to meet ever-changing demands.
A cohort of 13 SFRS Apprentices are the first in the country to have been trained, independently assessed and successful in achieving the Operational Firefighters Trailblazer Standard.
The Operational Firefighter Standard was first approved by the Minister of State for Apprenticeship and skills in February 2018. Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were actively involved with its development and committed to utilise it from its inception.
The first cohort was selected from both existing staff ( who wanted to develop into a wholetime firefighter role) and new entrants to the Service. There was no upper age limit but the Service has adopted a minimum entry age of 18 years.
The programme has followed a structured pathway of core skills, knowledge and behavioural training – providing a strong foundation for future firefighters in the County
In 2017 the Service recruited Wholetime Firefighters for the first time in eight years and committed to training the new firefighter apprentices. Following the success of the programme SFRS recruited a second cohort in 2018 who will follow a similar development pathway.
The Service is about to embark on a further recruitment campaign and will shortly open the application process for its 2020 Cohort of operational Firefighter Apprentices.
Successful Apprentices will use the Programme to develop their skills and competencies, leading to the role of Wholetime Firefighter.
The Service also provides Apprenticeship opportunities in other fire service staff functions within the organisation.
Tim Wareham, Learning and Development Manager said: "The Service makes use of the Government Apprenticeship Levy to part fund the training. This is good use of central funding as it ensures the newcomers learn the skills and knowledge required to become competent in the chosen field.
"Apprenticeship standards can support many sectors to train and educate new and existing staff – delivered in a flexible way that allows us to futureproof our workforce by giving them some of the core skills to meet ever-changing demands. We look at any role available within the Service and determine if an apprenticeship is appropriate - even at the highest level. (Degree Apprenticeships are available) Consideration is given to all vacancies as to whether an Apprenticeship could be the most appropriate solution to fill it and we therefore open more opportunities for individuals to learn new skills and develop on the job. These opportunities are real jobs with real training."