A drive to recruit and develop new talent at a Welsh Fire and Rescue Service is helping the latest generation of firefighters to be the best yet.

A group of 10 firefighters with the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has completed an apprenticeship, with another 11 due to finish in March.

The framework for the apprenticeship was developed by Skills for Justice, which has worked in partnership with the service to support an ongoing drive to recruit and develop the skills of its teams.

Andrew Pughsley, the Head of People and Organisational Development for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Long may our partnership continue!" Andrew said he can already see the benefits that apprentices can offer to employers. He said: "In those people who have come through apprenticeships, we see a distinct strength. They have a better awareness of what is expected in their behaviours as well as their knowledge."

The service has around 1,400 operational and support staff. They are a combination of whole time, day crewed and retained staff and volunteers.

The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service covers around 4,500 square miles and makes up almost two thirds of the landmass of Wales. Their operational area covers an area ranging from the petro-chemical industries in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and Neath to heavily populated conurbations such as Swansea, Port Talbot and Llanelli. There is an extensive farming community and many other light industries throughout the area. These, together with an extensive coastline and inland waterways, present firefighters with specific challenges which require specialist skills.  Andrew believes it is vitally important that firefighters have the best training possible to be able to deal with the risks presented by the area.

Andrew became a staff development officer for the service in 2003. He said: "When I began my role, there was a feeling within the sector that it was not just the technical knowledge of firefighters but also their behaviours that were important."

It was also highly important to Andrew that part-time firefighters would be given the same opportunities to develop their skills as their full-time colleagues.

He met with experts from Skills for Justice, the Sector Skills Council for Justice, Community Safety and Legal Services, to discuss what they could offer.

Skills for Justice worked with the service to review the framework for their apprenticeships.   Andrew said: "They were able to offer a more robust structure to our apprenticeship. Together, we looked at the framework for the apprenticeships we offered and reshaped it to suit the needs of our service."

As part of his new role, Andrew also began to research ways of ensuring that the qualifications offered within the Mid and West Wales service matched those offered by other services in England and Wales and worked with Skills for Justice to review the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for firefighters.

NOS help employers to understand what good looks like in a range of job roles. They are the building blocks to a competence based approach to all aspects of people management and development.

Skills for Justice Workforce Development Advisor, Christine Castle has also worked closely with the service to help them to build relationships with other organisations and research ways of securing funding for apprenticeships.


In addition, Skills for Justice carries research into key trends in the fire and rescue sector, including the skills needs of employers. Andrew said: "Their research has always been very useful. Through our links to Skills for Justice, we have kept abreast of all the new developments in developing qualifications and skills across the sector.

"We hope to continue that  success in our ongoing relationship." 


For more information about Skills for Justice visit: www.skillsforjustice.com.


Posted February 8th, 2012 at 1030 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com