AF&RS announce firefighter apprenticeships

As part of National Apprenticeships Week, Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS) is proud to announce a new programme for apprentice Firefighters.

Beginning in September 2019, the programme will see the Service take on up to six new apprentices, and develop them into fully operational firefighters.  

During their two year apprenticeship, the new recruits will work within various AF&RS departments and gain a broad depth of knowledge into how the Service performs as a whole organisation.

The two-year model is currently being produced by the Learning and Development Operational Training team who will also deliver the practical firefighter training.

This will include everything from fitness, fire safety and practical skills such as breathing apparatus procedures, ladder training, hose management and road traffic collision operations.

Following the course, the six apprentices will then integrate into fire stations, where successful completion of their training will prepare them to become operational firefighters.

Simon Shilton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at AF&RS, said: "Fire services are embracing apprenticeships as a way of enhancing diversity along with developing the skills required for the future and we are looking to do the same.

“This new apprenticeship will allow us to provide a route into the Service for people from a variety of backgrounds to develop as firefighters where they may not have always considered the fire service as a career of choice.

“We are proud to offer this new scheme which will provide a new route into the Service, and one which will hopefully see younger people take up the challenge of helping create a service area that is a safer place for people to live, work and visit.

“It will sit alongside apprenticeships for our corporate staff which have already shown the positive impact a course like this can have on our workforce.”

In 2018, the Service recruited three new apprentices; two joined the Service in the Resource Planning Team and another is working as an assistant in the Principal Officer Suite.

All three are undertaking the Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship which AF&RS is delivering in partnership with Weston College.

The flexibility and responsiveness of this apprenticeship allows all three to develop a wide range of skills, knowledge and behaviours and it is this essential foundation which could act as a gateway to further career opportunities such as management or senior support roles.

Apprenticeships are not exclusive to new staff. Within AF&RS itself, 37 staff from across all areas of the organisation are taking part in apprenticeship programmes.

One course currently offered is the Aspiring Leaders programme, which is aimed at new supervisory managers, whilst the Leadership programme offers development for middle managers.

Autumn 2019 will also see the introduction of degree apprenticeships at senior management levels.

Liz Marchant, Organisational Development Manager for AF&RS, said: “Apprenticeships help people develop skills in role and are a great way for organisations to boost recruitment, improve diversity and upskill the Service’s existing workforce.

“We are always looking at new programmes that can help staff develop further and ways that apprenticeships can benefit both the Community and the Service. Investing in our staff and their leadership builds a sustainable programme for the leaders of today and into the future.

“The new Firefighter Apprenticeship programme will enable us to recruit new staff into AF&RS whilst allowing them the time to learn and grow within the Service before becoming operational.

“We have also seen how effective an apprenticeship can be in helping our existing staff develop and we look forward to offering more programmes year by year.”

Keith Smith, Apprenticeships Director, Education and Skills Funding Agency added: “The 12th annual National Apprenticeship Week, running from 4 to 8 March, will see industry stakeholders and employers celebrate apprenticeships and their positive impact on organisations across England.

“My ambition, and the collective goal for The Week, is to shift awareness of apprenticeships into action, encouraging more employers to start their own apprenticeship programme; whilst enabling more individuals, of all ages and backgrounds, to consider an apprenticeship to reinvigorate or kick start their career.

“The theme for the Week is ‘Blaze a Trail’ and we are calling on employers to take the lead and showcase how apprenticeships bring new energy to their businesses. There are many benefits that apprenticeships bring to individuals, employers, local communities and the wider economy and National Apprenticeship Week is the ideal opportunity to celebrate the fantastic results being an apprentice or hiring an apprentice can bring.”

Applications for the firefighter apprenticeship will open at the end of April.