A vocation protecting the livelihoods of working people is proving a big draw for apprentices, with “floods” of candidates starting a new path into health and safety.
About 130 people have started the Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Technician Level 3 Apprenticeship and many more are expected to follow suit, according to one of the training providers.
With growing value being placed by businesses on ensuring employees are safe and healthy, the apprenticeship is a new, exciting career path for potential learners.
The first 300 to complete the apprenticeship can claim free membership of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), global chartered body for professionals in this area. They will be well-placed to ensure their organisations manage workplace risks, to reduce the possibility of colleagues suffering from work-related ill health and accidents.
The apprenticeship was launched last June. IOSH is secretariat for the apprenticeship, having played a key part in its development with a trailblazer group of employers.
Among the apprentices to have already begun studying is Leon Axisa, who works for vehicle re-marketing service Manheim. Leon had been part of the health and safety team at the organisation for about four years when the opportunity arose to develop his career. The 31-year-old said:
“For four years or so, I’d look after health and safety around the site and I wanted to take that next step into a career in health and safety. The apprenticeship seemed like a perfect opportunity.
“It offers a really good mix of one-to-one support with tutors as well as e-learning via a web-based programme. I’ve also been able to attend an accident investigation course.
“Being involved in health and safety really gives me the opportunity to ensure both myself and my colleagues work in a safe environment, which has the knock-on impact of increasing productivity.”
Leon’s apprenticeship is being provided by Leicestershire-based training organisation RHG Consult, whose Operations Director Sarah Douglas said they are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries about the SHE apprenticeship. She said:
“We have been seeing significant levels of interest. It started off with a trickle but now we are having a flood. We currently have 30 people who have started the SHE apprenticeship. By the end of April, I’d expect that to increase to 60.
“It really offers a blended learning solution. We see our apprentices in the workplace, we have face-to-face sessions with them and there is also an e-learning element.”
IOSH Director of Professional Services Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher said:
“This apprenticeship was eagerly awaited by many, so it is encouraging to see organisations from a wide variety of sectors recruiting for Safety, Health and Environment Technician Apprentices and providing opportunities for existing employees to pursue this route thanks to the Apprenticeship Levy.
“IOSH is best-placed and very well suited to support this as its secretariat. We are enabling new routes into our profession, providing training pathways for trainers who wish to support employers with their SHE Apprenticeships, developing our offer to businesses, and giving free IOSH Student Membership to the first 300 SHE Tech Apprentices.
“Via our website, we offer information and even ‘matchmaking’ between employers and potential apprentices across the country. IOSH looks forward to seeing many more sign up.”
The Civil Service is also planning to recruit many SHE Technician apprentices. Jonathan Russell, Civil Service Ambassador for Health, Safety and Wellbeing, said:
“The skills, knowledge and behaviours that SHE apprentices will learn as part of this apprenticeship will help provide them with the key skills they will need to look after our staff and visitors which will lead to the Civil Service departments being able to deliver on their key objectives which are essential for everyone who depends on our services.
“By joining the Civil Service health and safety function they will work as part of a wide-ranging interactive specialist area that works collaboratively to share best practice, avoid duplication and which continually seeks to increase our professionalism.”
Potential apprentices, employers and trainers can find out more information about the apprenticeship here.