Chubb opens national Centre of Excellence for apprentices

05 Mar 12

Chubb Fire & Security UK has launched a national Centre of Excellence for training apprentices such that the company can continue to develop the knowledge and skills of its workforce.

By Brian Sims

Partnering with Blackburn-based training provider Training 2000, Chubb – which, of course, is part of UTC Climate, Controls and Security, a unit of United Technologies Corporation – now offers a flexible apprenticeship scheme that’s scalable depending on the requirements of the business.

From its training facility in Blackburn, Training 2000 is currently delivering apprenticeships for 29 Chubb employees from across the UK in Level 2 Electrical Engineering and Level 3 Fire and Security, with plans to include apprenticeships in mechanical fire protection (sprinklers) at some point in the future.

Dave Millett, the head of learning and development for Chubb Fire & Security, explained how Training 2000 is helping to deliver its staff training requirements.

“Our apprentices are key to the long-term future of the business,” asserted Millett, “and we’re committed to helping those new entrants to the fire and security industry develop the right skills.”

He continued: “Working with Training 2000 allows us to scale the training appropriately in order to meet the current and future requirements of the business. We considered many training providers across England before choosing Training 2000 as our apprenticeship training partner, and have been impressed by the company’s experience and facilities.”

Steve Gray, the CEO of Training 2000, added: “It’s fantastic for us to be working closely with such a well-respected company as Chubb, and we’re very much looking forward to developing our offering in this sector to accommodate even more apprentices in the near future.”

Training 2000 is a certified Training Quality Standard (TQS) provider boasting “excellence in automotive, engineering and health”.

In 2011, Training 2000 was awarded Beacon status and also listed as one of the best places to work in the public/third sector in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Places to Work.

Training 2000’s apprenticeships are renowned for their relevance to industry requirements, and the compamy’s completion rates exceed the national average.

“Apprenticeships face ‘identity crisis’”

The Forum of Private Business has warned a group of MPs that apprenticeships are facing an ‘identity crisis’, with business owners in certain sectors concerned that shorter schemes do not provide the same value as longer courses.

The Forum’s senior policy adviser Alex Jackman gave evidence to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ Select Committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships in the House of Commons on 1 March.

Jackman told MPs that shorter apprenticeships have faced criticism from UK business owners, particularly those in traditional industries such as manufacturing and engineering who argue they do not provide the same value as the longer schemes they run – despite evidence of their popularity among more service-orientated sectors such as retail.

“At a general level we have spent decades devaluing GCSEs, A Levels and degrees by making them easier to pass,” stated Jackman. “It’s just not acceptable to devalue apprenticeships in the same way.”

Jackman continued: “Apprenticeships are facing an identity crisis over how entrepreneurs view shorter courses. Business owners in more traditional industries often doubt their value relative to the longer schemes they run, and even question whether they should be branded as apprenticeships at all, but others – in retail, for example – see many benefits.”

As far as Jackman’s concerned, it is of course important that shorter apprenticeships are more than simply glorified training schemes, hitting businesses in the pocket for little in return. “We should guard against diluting courses so they fall below industry standards,” he urged, “but, providing these schemes are accredited, shown to address real skills needs and are well regarded, even as ‘entry level’ apprenticeships, then they should rightly be valued, protected and promoted.”

That said, he continued: “We do need more awareness of the differences between intense, four-year apprenticeships and shorter schemes, greater clarity about their applicability to businesses in different industries and more centralised information about where to source information, funding and courses.”

Central Government “could be more effective”

In its submission to the official inquiry, the Forum argued that central Government could be more effective in overcoming the lack of clarity over information about apprenticeships as a result of the numerous routes through which to seek advice.

The not-for-profit employer body welcomed recent improvements to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), particularly its commitment to advertise a firm’s apprenticeship position within one month, place an apprentice within thee months and remove any Health and Safety requirements that go beyond national standards.

The Forum reported generally positive feedback on the NAS’ activities, including its national contract management, but noted some continuing problems associated with sub-contracting training and courses and called for more awareness of the breadth of professions running apprenticeship schemes – including services such accountancy as well as traditional sectors like manufacturing.

With resources scarce for small firms just now there’s a need for robust data and feedback on the effectiveness of courses to ensure quality control. Closer interaction between training providers and local businesses would be beneficial.

Further, the Forum believes that reinstating independent careers advice in schools and colleges would help develop a greater understanding of the value of apprenticeships within the education system.

In the interests of flexibility and meeting the specific needs of small businesses, the Forum has called for more incentives to encourage firms to take on apprentices, for example via tax breaks and building on the direct, employer-led funding initiative currently being piloted.

Forum research: valued apprenticeships?

Forum research suggests 46% of small businesses use day release and college training apprenticeships, 31% traditional ‘on-the-job’ training schemes and 26% work trials taking on long-term unemployed people on 30-day trials.

Barriers to taking on apprenticeships include red tape – with 22% of respondents citing Health and Safety regulations. Many business owners believe risk assessments lack ‘common sense’.

Employment law is also a major issue. In all, 78% of Forum members said they would be encouraged to take on more young people if was easier to let recent recruits go should they not work out, with 54% suggesting reducing red tape when recruiting and 74% lowering employment costs more generally.

In order to make training and skills more employer-focused, 25% of small businesses called for apprenticeships to be better tailored to their needs.

Further, 23% have called for tax cuts and 31% training vouchers.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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