Following on from the UK Government’s announcement of additional support for apprenticeship schemes, CEO Amthal Fire & Security, Jamie Allam shows the vital role Apprentices have played, and how their employment continues to be a key strategy to the company’s success.

"Over 700,000 people are leaving education this year and many more are just starting out in their careers. Coronavirus has hit them hard. We cannot lose this generation."

Fire and security industry

This was the outlook of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he delivered his Summer Statement and offered employers a significant financial incentive for hiring apprentices over the next six months. Amthal has always been a big supporter of Apprentices as a way to create a more open business environment.

Apprentices gave the company a new dimension to hone in skills and be able to adapt to new innovations

Since the company started their apprentice programme over 15 years ago, they have employed, retained (and promoted) the majority of their Apprentices, who have been supervised by the company’s senior team, and now even form part of their management structure, because the company values the opportunity to encourage job-specific skills to achieve more of their customer demands, quickly and efficiently. And they would encourage others in the fire and security industry to consider the same outlook.

Smart security technologies

Apprentices for Amthal, have proven through the years, incremental to solving issues such as the skills shortage in the industry. People have no long-term experience and there has been a lack of engineers understanding the specific disciplines of the industry, instead being trained as ‘multi-disciplined’ which often does not suit the intricacy of design in security and fire safety.

Apprentices gave the company a new dimension to hone in skills and be able to adapt to new innovations, and embrace smart security technologies. In fire safety, there is an essential way Apprentices can rise to a challenge and requirement for a clear understanding to help combat the findings such as those of Dame Judith Hackitt, which highlighted the shortcomings in the wider fire and security industries following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Developing technical competence

The whole of the industry needs to work together to correct years of training neglect by proving and developing the technical competence held by its existing operatives, so they can work on making such tragedies a thing of the past. New apprentices, with an ambition to learn a trade, can embrace the opportunity for change.

The company has had to quickly understand modern methods of communication and embrace new technologies

The essential requirements of key workers through lockdown to keep the UK safe and ‘protect what’s precious’ has filtered into the ‘new normal’ as companies and hospitality industries looked to achieve Government mandates on controlling the Coronavirus. Together, the company has had to quickly understand modern methods of communication and embrace the new technologies available quickly and efficiently.

Body temperature monitoring systems

Again, throughout this pandemic, they joined the country in learning new ways to communicate with their teams, embracing performance management and employee engagement technology that helped them grow stronger. The industry has had to meet the incredible uptake in demands for people counting and access control body temperature monitoring systems, together with latest thermal camera technology.

Apprentices build on the creation of the positive business culture, upon which all their sustainable growth resides. Amthal has three Apprentices on their engineering team currently, one who starts college in September. They are looking for an additional Apprentice to support their growth in Building, Block Management and the facilities management industry. And in addition, another Apprentice will support their team in Finance.

Fire safety

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get into a wide range of rewarding and valuable careers"

In summary, the Government’s funding is limited and inevitably, now is the time for the fire safety and security industry to act before the opportunity is expired. For Amthal, the new generation and the apprentice programme, allows each individual to settle into their defined role, learn their skills and take responsibility with their dedicated line manager for their own growth.

In the company’s experience, they would agree with Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan who said: “Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get into a wide range of rewarding and valuable careers.”

Technical challenges

Amthal has, from early on in their business life, certainly reaped the benefits of introducing Apprentices to their company. And if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them anything, it’s that future planning is not a luxury, but a necessity to be able to take on change and the technical challenges that their industry faces.

For Amthal, whilst they may not have been able to celebrate their 20th anniversary as the company had intended, they look forward to their 25th and 30th with the same passion and drive as they do now, with Apprentices forming an essential part of the company’s team, product and service development.

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