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Apprentices and installation business benefits

by Andy Clutton

Do you employ apprentices? Many of you may have been an apprentice and know of the benefits, but for those who are unsure of what is involved we speak to the top man at Banham Academy, Kevin Faulkner

Did you see any trends in the number of apprentices coming through last year?

The figures I saw just before Christmas 2020 showed that the numbers for enrolment were down only marginally so it’s actually good considering there was a pandemic going on, and if it hadn’t been for that I’m sure that numbers would have grown in the year. In terms of the trends we are seeing, 16-18 year-olds tend to make up about 45% of the number of apprentices across the country, with a total number nationwide of about 1200 at the moment. Those aged between 19 and 24 make up another 45% and then those over 25 years old are the remaining 10%.  At the Academy we’ve got just under a hundred apprentices at the moment with a new cohort starting on the 18th of January which will take the total here to over a hundred. We only have two females currently with us at the Academy, which is not a great number out of a hundred apprentices, but it is similar pretty much all around the country.

How did you cope with training during the lockdowns because a lot of the work is hands-on?

We kept the calendar exactly the same so that whatever cohort was due to come into the Academy for the week was hosted on Teams for the period. So we had our tutors live on Teams teaching and setting tasks then looking at the tasks and quantifying how the students had done on it and then move on to something else. The practical skills dropped off due to the majority of apprentices being on furlough, so when we picked up again in September last year, we started the task of reassessing all of the apprentices to see how much the practical skills had not progressed forward. Then just as we got towards the end of that and we had a plan to start increasing practicing practical skills again, we went into another lockdown!  During the lockdown we were very aware of apprentices’ mental health so we have two trained Mental Health First Aiders to provide support when required.

What types of security technologies and installations does the programme cover?

We have a variety of systems within the Academy and, of course with the Fire, Emergency and Security Systems Apprenticeship Standard we cover the fire pathway and the security pathway within which we’ve got intruder, access control and CCTV. We have had some very welcome donations from manufacturers such as Pyronix and Texecom on the intruder side, BPT for access control and Hikvision on the CCTV side. We also have equipment from Paxton and on the fire side we have some Kentec and Hochiki products as well. We have a wide selection of equipment which we can mount onto boards so the apprentices can connect them up and also move them around and plug them into different places within the workshops. We also have a large bay with a false door and window for more complete installations. There is also an e-learning suite in the Academy so apprentices can do their research and we can put them through online training programmes.

Read the full interview in the February 2021 edition of PSI magazine

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