Plans to develop a new Health and Safety apprenticeship for England have the potential to be a “real asset to business”, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
The Institution is one of a number of professional bodies supporting efforts to establish a Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) apprenticeship as part of the UK Government’s ‘Trailblazer’ programme.
The news comes in the same week the Institute for Apprenticeships was launched and the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy comes into force.
From Thursday 6 April, all employers operating in the UK with a pay bill over £3million each year were required to contribute to the levy, which will be used to fund new apprenticeships.
The gap in the market for a safety, health and environment apprenticeship was raised at the London Health and Safety Directors Forum recently, and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has facilitated setting up an employer’s working group to address this.
UK-based engineering solutions provider Costain has volunteered to lead the working group, given its in-house experience in running health and safety development programmes for graduates and apprentices.
The working group also includes representatives of Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Sisk, Persimmon Homes, Morrison Utilities, High Speed 2, Thames Water, Mitie and Sapa UK.
Additional support is also being provided by bodies including IOSH, CITB, Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) and Unite the Union.
Shelley Frost, Executive Director of Policy at IOSH, said: “IOSH is proud to be supporting this initiative to bring young people into the profession via a Health and Safety Apprenticeship.
“By having an employer-led group, supported by IOSH, this apprenticeship will develop professionals with highly transferable skills which are a real asset to business, beyond simple technical skills.
“Although apprenticeships are a UK Government scheme, IOSH’s involvement in the development of the framework means that the skills and knowledge the apprenticeships gain, will take them to anywhere in the world.”
The employer’s working group is chaired by IOSH Chartered Member Ian Nixon, who is Costain’s Highways Sector SHE Manager and who also co-directs the company’s SHE Academy development programme.
Ian said: “The high level of interest from a wide range of industries regarding the new Health and Safety Apprenticeship has been fantastic and shows there is a real need for this across the country.
“I have received numerous offers of support and contact from organisations wishing to join the employer working group. Whilst the employer group has its roots with CITB in the construction sector, the core SHE Apprenticeship will be suitable for any sector with pathways leading from the core elements to specialise in a particular sector, therefore we have been pleased to welcome members from a range of backgrounds.”
Given the level of interest received in the idea, the employer working group is now widening beyond those with a construction and engineering background to include the National Theatre, emergency services, nuclear clients and specialist assessment bodies.
Karl Simons, Thames Water’s Head of Health & Safety and Chairman of the London Health and Safety Directors Forum, said: “I and my peer senior executives from the major employers meet quarterly throughout the year to share learning, drive standards and tackle the challenges faced throughout UK industry.
“There was a groundswell of recognition that with the growth of our profession throughout the UK, we have an opportunity to support the world of work through the development and implementation of a formal health and safety apprenticeship programme.”
The expression of interest to set up the SHE apprenticeship was made to Trailblazer in January 2017 and was approved by Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, in March 2017.
The Minister said: “Apprenticeships offer young people a ladder of opportunity to gain the vital skills they and businesses need to succeed. By putting more control in the hands of employers, we are ensuring apprenticeships are high quality and address skills shortages facing industry.
“Congratulations to the SHE Apprenticeship Trailblazer for publishing their approval to develop their apprenticeship standard, and for playing an active role in developing the workforce of the future.”
The employer working group continue to invite employers from a range of sectors, training providers and assessors to help shape the programme.