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Apprentices on agenda at ST19 Glasgow

The morning conference side of the Security TWENTY events around the British Isles try to bring attenders a balance, between industry figures giving the latest informed perspective; and speakers with a local flavour. For the next ST19 event, at the Hilton in William Street in downtown Glasgow, on Tuesday, April 30, we’ve gone for an all-local flavour.

Confirmed speakers include David Scott, of New College Lanarkshire talking about apprenticeships; Les Allen, of Heriot-Watt University; and Maxine Fraser of Retailers Against Crime, the Stirling-based partnership.

Why do apprentices matter? Because they’re needed; the country has only an estimated 500 fire and security engineer apprentices, compared with 10,000 in the (ageing) workforce. The country has a skills shortage in engineering in general and fire and security in particular. NCL has some 200 of those 500, that come from much of Scotland, from the Borders to Aberdeen. NCL has also begun offering a one-year ‘pre-app’, pre-apprenticeship course to school leavers, including work placement; some 35 of the 40 on the last intake got jobs.

As David acknowledges, there are large gaps in the UK in terms of coverage of colleges offering fire and security apprentice installer courses; there are none in the middle of the country between London and Bristol to the south, and Manchester (Hopwood) to the north. David says: “We are actively out there, trying to get people engaged and involved; what we need is employers to get engaged and involved.”

David, and Alan Wheelans, the new MD of installer Border Safeguard, were among the speakers at the annual NSI Summit, at the Birmingham NEC yesterday. Both men have two things in common; they started as apprentices; and each had teenage ambitions to make it as sportsmen (injury put paid to David’s hope of professional sport). Earlier this month NCL third-year apprentices competed at the Kirkintilloch campus, north-east of Glasgow, to select four to go to IFSEC 2019 in June to compete in the national, annual Engineers of Tomorrow competition.

As in that recent contest, it’s only possible with the backing and goodwill of industry bodies and fire and electronic security product manufacturers. At the NSI Summit David praised Paxton, Visonic, Orisec, Hikvision and sister company Pyronix; Apollo, CSL, Dahua, Kentec, Honeywell, Texecom and Hochiki. The overall point; it makes sense (‘it’s a no-brainer, really’, Alan Wheelans said) for installer-employers and product manufacturers to work with colleges. Installers taking on apprentices get a fully-qualified engineer, and manufacturers have more people out there familiar with their kit.

Visit the ST19 Glasgow conference, then, to hear the case for apprentices, and how to fund them through the (in England) apprenticeship levy (the other nations of the UK have their own arrangements).

For more about ST19 Glasgow and to register online to attend – it’s free, whether you’re an installer, security manager, consultant or specifier, or just someone interested in getting up to date on the private security industry – visit Attenders can enjoy bacon butties (for the earliest arrivals – doors open around 8.30am), mid-morning tea and coffee, and a hot buffet lunch (pictured are the cakes for afters, last year; they were as good at they look!).

After Glasgow, the next stops in 2019 for ST are Manchester (Tuesday, July 2) then Belfast and Dublin on the Tuesday and Thursday of the same week (September 3 and 5) and as ever the last of the year is at Heathrow, on Thursday, November 7. Details at


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