National Apprenticeship Week 2024 draws to a close for another year. We have been delighted to see a steady increase in female delegates on our apprenticeships and hope this will continue. Xact Consultancy and Training is committed to developing the fire inspection and fire engineering industries, by fostering talent; increasing diversity; enhancing skills and supporting the development of qualified and competent fire safety professionals.
Of our current apprentices, working towards our level 3 and 4 apprenticeships, 27% are women; this is significantly above average in the construction and engineering industries. Our focus is on learning through experience, which is supported and enriched by both online and in-person training. The flexibility of the apprenticeship supports different learning styles and facilitates a positive work-life balance arrangement. More and more women are now considering a career in the fire safety industry and recognising that taking on a new career or qualification does not have to drastically impact your personal life or family
We spoke to Andrea White, MSc BSc (Hons) IEng FiFire C.Build MCABE CFIOSH, about the importance of encouraging more women into fire safety. Andrea has spent over 20 years working in this industry and has amassed a huge amount of experience in the sector in consultancy, fire safety enforcement and training as a retained firefighter. She commented,
“Fire Safety inspections require a meticulous and methodical approach. The work that we do is essential to ensure that buildings are safe from a fire perspective, for use and occupancy. This is a job suited to anyone who has an interest in the details of a building or in protecting lives.
The number of qualified female fire safety professionals is on the increase, and I am delighted to see that the proportion of female apprentices developing their competence in this sector is also rising quickly. Increasing diversity in this sector can only be a good thing- a more inclusive and diverse workforce enables teams to draw on varying experiences and viewpoints. Research proves that this results in more effective and robust solutions for protecting people and buildings from fire.
Apprenticeships provide individuals with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills to gain professional qualifications while learning and gaining confidence in fire safety roles. Anyone who does not already have qualifications in fire safety at the apprenticeship level is eligible, even if they have a higher-level qualification in fire safety in an unrelated subject. The flexibilities which allow apprenticeships to be undertaken online and/or part-time are fantastic for women, who predominantly have responsibility for family caring responsibilities. Employers also benefit from significant government funding (up to 95%) to train and develop their staff into competent fire safety professionals.
The ’learning while earning’ approach means that apprentices benefit from the extensive experience and professionalism of Xact’s tutors, as well as from their apprenticeship mentors and line manager/employer mentors. This is a great opportunity to learn from supportive, highly experienced professionals.
Developing competent professionals through this route can be a great option and can only be beneficial to the industry in the long run given the skills shortages we currently face.”