Celebrating the success of apprenticeship programme

Sun 30 Sep, 2018

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service apprentice firefighters pictured at their graduation ceremony

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is celebrating the success of its apprenticeship programme, now in its third year.

An annual return submitted today (30 September) to the Department for Education highlights the importance of apprenticeships to the organisation’s current and future workforce resourcing plans – in particular its commitment to improving the diversity of its staff, which is already having positive results.

It also shows that Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service exceeded the apprentice recruitment target set by the government for public sector organisations in England.

During the year, it became the first fire and rescue service to be accepted into the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network.

The ADCN promotes apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages more people from groups including those with disabilities, women and members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, to consider apprenticeships.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority introduced its apprenticeship programme as part of its workforce plan in 2016, ahead of the Government’s Workforce Reform agenda.

The programme has four key areas of focus:

  • - How apprentices can be utilised most effectively

  • - Improving the diversity of the workforce

  • - Career development opportunities for existing employees

  • - Increasing the resilience of the workforce

As part of the Government’s reform agenda on apprenticeships, a target was introduced whereby public sector organisations in England must meet a minimum of 2.3 per cent apprenticeship starts each year, based on their headcount of employees.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s target for the year ending 31 March 2018 was 12, and it took on 14 – 13 firefighters and a business and administration apprentice.

Following a report to members of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s Executive Committee in advance of today’s annual statutory return, Councillor Steven Lambert, Lead Member for People and Equality and Diversity, said: “It is really good news that we are exceeding the minimum level. This scheme is really working for us, and we are leading the way as an authority.”

Councillor Roger Reed, Chairman of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, who along with Councillor Lambert and a number of other members attended a recent apprentice firefighter graduation ceremony at the Fire Service College in Gloucestershire, said: “It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the apprentices and their families. I am confident that our apprentices will be an incredible asset to this service.”

Lynne Swift, Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s Director of People and Organisational Development, who is also the National Fire Chiefs Council’s national sector lead for apprenticeships, said: “Apprenticeships are an excellent way of refreshing our workforce and developing skills for the future, and play a key part in our recruitment plans both now and in the future.

“We are committed to working with other fire and rescue services and partner agencies to find new ways in which we could improve the diversity of our apprentices and, therefore, our workforce.

“We are also working with local training providers to develop new opportunities for new starters and existing members of staff.”

Examples of how Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service encourages people from under-represented groups to consider joining it include targeted have-a-go days and a “recruitment buddy” scheme in which members of staff work with individuals or small groups of applicants to help them prepare for the selection process.

Click here to see Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority’s 2017-18 Public Sector Apprenticeship Target return to the Department for Education.