Eight fire service employees, who are currently undertaking or have recently completed apprenticeships in a variety of disciplines, were invited to join a virtual meeting with the Minister on Thursday 10 February.

They spoke about their fire service journey so far, and how the apprenticeship programme has helped them to realise their career goals, as well as their aspirations for the future.

Six fire-specific apprenticeships have been developed covering the specific roles of: Operational Firefighter, Fire Safety Inspector, Community Safety Advisor, Fire Safety Engineer, Emergency Services Call Handler and Business Fire Safety Advisor.

To date, more than 1800 fire service employees have completed apprenticeships since the programme was rolled out in 2018; and another 1400 are under way. This is as a result of a programme of work by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to develop fire specific apprenticeships and support FRSs in their introduction and on-going implementation.

The delivery of a newly enhanced end-point assessment service for fire and rescue services, which was developed by the NFCC in partnership with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), has furthered strengthened the commitment to the use of apprenticeships as a route of entry.

Under the EPA Partnership, Cornwall FRS will continue to offer end-point assessments for the Operational Firefighter apprenticeship and all other fire specific apprenticeships moving forward.

Ann Millington, Chief Executive at Kent Fire and Rescue Service and Chair of the NFCC's People Programme said: "It is really encouraging to see so many fire and rescue services in England committing to providing support for the apprenticeship programme and benefitting from the many opportunities they provide services as 'employers of choice'.

"Apprenticeships present opportunities to improve diversity and inclusivity within the workforce, by offering entry routes to people from all backgrounds, regardless of experience and educational attainment.

"They also provide retraining and career progression opportunities for those who are already working within the fire sector, enabling them to reach their full potential and providing a sound base of skills and attributes within the service."