Will, Beth & Ben

Apprenticeships are successful way to develop vocational and soft-skills in young people and adults. Vocational skills are an area where the UK still lags behind when compared internationally. As a result, employers still struggle to get the professional, trade and technical skills they need. By hiring Apprentices, employers can take the issue into their own hands and ensure they cultivate the exact skills they require while growing a committed and engaged workforce.
There are both economic and social reasons for the public sector to employ Apprentices. They are a means to:

  • - Develop the skills of local people
  • - Bring young people into the workforce
  • - Involve the local community in the delivery of local services
  • - Increase staff morale, productivity
  • - Train the organisation’s current workforce while growing the workforce for the future

As result, organisations can acquire some of the following benefits:

  • Better Equipped Workforce – Apprenticeships help generate a more diverse and richer blend of skills.
  • Improve Your Bottom Line - Apprentices can offer an increase in productivity and delivery as they are working hard to complete their training, in the right manner and to the appropriate standard. Training Apprentices can be more cost-effective than hiring more skilled staff, with a reduction in overall training and recruitment costs.

Chris Toon Community Safety Advisor – My Journey

Before my journey with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service started, I was unemployed and had very few hopes and prospects for the future. I had moved between several jobs in sales for a few years but had no direction as to where I wanted to go. At the time, I was severely depressed and struggled to leave the house. I was very low in confidence and didn’t see any reason that that was going to change.

My experience however started when I was trying to see what options were available for me to get me back into work; this is where I found the Princes Trust.
I have found that many people have different ideas of what the Princes Trust really is and what it does. I however found it to be exactly as it was described to me, a twelve week personal development course, run by the Fire Service that would get me work ready.

I began the course with reservations and doubts as to what it could do for me but despite my earlier fears of not fitting in and struggling to make new friends, I found myself being able to get on with everyone and feeling really comfortable with the team.

I think the support the team leaders offered and the way the course was structured pushed us all to support each other and help with each other’s weaknesses. This is a lesson I have been able to take forward with me into my current role.

For me, the highlight of the course was our residential. This meant going away with your new teammates and bonding for a week. By taking us out if our comfort zones, it helped break a lot of social barriers which were difficult to overcome so close to home.

The next steps week that we had was of great importance to me. Before then, I had no idea of how to build a CV let alone set it out to make it look appealing to an employer. The help with CV building sessions that were run made a huge difference to me and gave me a CV that I now also had qualifications to add to. I’d had very little interview experience previously and always found myself to be extremely worried and nervous leading up to them. For this reason, the mock interviews we completed gave us extra confidence to apply for jobs by knowing what to expect. They also provided us with feedback areas to improve so we could better ourselves for the next time.

Throughout the 12 weeks, my whole attitude changed. I went from being a quiet lad that barely left the house, to someone confident enough to apply for the first apprenticeships being offered by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service as a Community Safety Advisor.

I went through a rigorous selection process to be one of the final 12 chosen to be an apprentice. I felt extremely proud to be able to wear the uniform that the fire fighters wore and for that reason my confidence soared.

I took on many challenges through my first year here including:

  • - Learning presentations to deliver to school children and adults which I have done on many occasions now.
  • - Increasing my awareness of fire safety allowing me to advise the public in order to reduce risk.
  • - Promoting our apprenticeships nationally through the Brathay Challenge.
  • - Writing an apprentices blog on the fire service website to tell the public what we were up to in their communities.

The blog is something I took charge of and have ran it for almost 12 months now with the help of my fellow apprentices and support and guidance from our media teams. Within the 12 months, we have had people from countries all across the world reading what we have been doing and watching weekly to see what new stories arrived. At the last look, it has been viewed and read by just shy of 11,500 people which is something I am extremely proud of and shows the reach and interest in our work that we have.

I still find it difficult to comprehend the journey I have been on so far, the opportunities I have been given and the experiences I have had. It’s been a roller coaster 18 months with many challenges but my training as an apprentice this last year is something that I loved. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to learn from. I have worked with people from different departments as well as my own and have found each person I have dealt with to be professional and supportive at all times.

The support and help I have been given has helped me to push myself in order to gain full time work here and I’m proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve been through to get here and all that I’ve achieved.
I love the job that I do on a daily basis as I get to make a difference. Even if that is only in a small way, I find it’s extremely rewarding to know I’ve helped improve things for someone else just as the fire service has done for me.

The best thing for me now though, is that I can see the impact these programs have had on my life, personally and professionally. I’ve been taught under a system which is built on good values and behaviours helping me to conduct myself in a manner that is appropriate and expected when wearing this uniform. I’ve been encouraged to achieve as much as I can, grab opportunities with both hands and strive for excellence where possible. I believe the only way from here is to keep going up.

My aspirations for the future however, see me sat over here in headquarters with a role helping to run or support the youth engagement programmes we have in order to give others an opportunity to follow the steps I’ve taken.

I have now gone on to help as a volunteer cadet instructor to help young people from more deprived areas work towards a qualification and even managed to involve my younger brother who now donates his time as a community action volunteer whilst follow in my footsteps hoping to get an apprenticeship.

I believe I have a lot to thank greater Manchester fire service for so I will continue to promote the good work they do and I will keep building on the lessons they have taught me each day, in work and out.

Will Hartley – Case Study

When Will Hartley snapped a ligament in his knee playing football, the worse year of his life began and his career as a brick layer lay in ruins.

During months of treatment and rehabilitation Will endured operations, a recurrence of his injury and three months confined to his bed.

He said: “I was off work for 16 months and I was bed bound for three months. I was on morphine tablets and everything, it was horrible.

“Then I did all the rehab, got myself better and it snapped again and I had to have more operations. I was inside for months, I couldn’t go out, see people or do anything – it was the worse year of my life.”
Once Will was back on his feet he turned to one of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Prince’s Trust Teams to ease him back into normal life.

“I wanted to go on the Prince’s Trust just to get back into things and get into a routine. Start speaking to people again, do some activities and get some confidence.

“The Prince’s Trust was life changing for me, it made me realise more about myself and opened my eyes a lot. I was lucky we had a really good team.”
Will applied for a place on the CSA apprenticeship scheme and was accepted. He said: “I’ve learnt loads of stuff and I love coming to work now.

“I’ve changed quite a lot, I put myself in other people’s shoes a lot more. When I go to some houses I realise how lucky I am.

“My parents are really proud of me. As a brick layer I was at the top of my level and I wasn’t going to go anywhere else.

“I’m happy now I’m in a job where I can go higher up a career ladder and not building walls for the rest of my life.”

I received an e-mail alerting me to an opportunity to apply for a Community Safety Support Officer role in Bolton. My eyes lit up as I was reading the job description as it described the work I was currently doing and enjoying in Manchester Central. Some of my colleagues had been CSSOs in the past and they explained the role would suit me and offered their support to apply. I was delighted when I was successful securing the role I have been working at Bolton for a week now and again been given a warm welcome.

Will, Beth & Ben

I am looking forward to developing my new role in Bolton as I enjoy meeting new people and facing new challenges. I know the rest of the apprentices have what it takes to gain further employment and I wish each one of them the best of luck, I am fully aware that they are very proud that we have started making a big impact in the organisation and now we have the first one of us with a job.

I would advise any young person to apply for apprenticeships as they are a great way to gain qualifications whilst you work and also it gives you the experience and skills set you need to complete a full time role the job you are interested in. I would not have been able to get the experience and obtain the role I have without my apprenticeship from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Marlon – Case Study

Marlon is 21 years old and came to the programme with little confidence and self-esteem and a very nervous disposition. Marlon had been unemployed since he had left college at age 18. Marlon has had a number of family and personal issues which had left him to live in numerous locations and attend numerous schools when he was growing up and this had lead him to become quite isolated. He lives on his own in a housing association flat.

Throughout the programme Marlon has worked on his confidence and social skills by getting to know his team mates and by taking part fully in all activities. He has made some good friends who he has also socialised with outside of the team environment.

During week 6 of the programme we identified an apprenticeship opportunity to Marlon in childcare as this was the field of work that he had identified as wanting to pursue. We encouraged and supported Marlon to apply and secured an interview with Manchester International College 3 days after submitting his application. Marlon was very anxious about his interview and so we worked with him to prepare as well as plan his route into Manchester and also helped to source him clothing suitable for an interview.

Marlon didn’t hear anything back about the apprenticeship until week 12 of the programme, however he felt more confident about his job prospects from having had the opportunity to attend an interview. During week 12 Marlon attended a second interview and a s a result has been offered a Traineeship in Play Work which after completion will lead into a guaranteed apprenticeship.

Marlon finally feels that his life is on track and going in the right direction. His improved confidence is noticeable and he no longer has a nervous approach to everyday tasks such as taking the bus, speaking to new people and making telephone calls.

Lee Waddicor- age 19

Lee was involved in a vicious attack a number of years ago and was held hostage and made to do things against his will. This made the news and the men involved were sent to prison. This left Lee unhappy and depressed for a long time. Lee stopped focusing at school; and became disengaged and was unable to leave the house. Lee lost all confidence and hope.

Lee heard about the course through his mum who works for the council, she pushed him to apply as she knew he needed to gain work and confidence.

Within the first few weeks Lee changed and grew in confidence, he became an ideal team member, not only helping himself but encouraging other team members who are less able than himself. Lee’s empathy is amazing and his self-confidence has soared.

Lee completed a work placement at GMFRS and discovered that he really liked working with people and the community. Lee applied for the GMFRS CSA apprenticeship and completed the week long pre apprenticeship course, he was successful and gained an interview, which he passed and will be starting working for GMFRS in the new year. Lee has also been heavily involved in the cadet scheme at Eccles fire station and has successfully passed the volunteering process.

Lee has said that the course ‘has helped him realised his potential. I can’t believe how much my confidence has improved. When I wear my Prince’s Trust top I feel ten feet tall!’

Lee’ s mum comments ‘thank you for giving me my son back.’

Community Safety Apprenticeship

Community Safety in the broadest sense is about reducing risks within communities. The risks to communities could be from, but are not limited to, crime, anti-social behaviour, vandalism, fire, terrorism etc. There is currently one pathway at Intermediate Level within this framework for Community Fire Safety. The term Community Fire Safety covers all community safety activities that are the responsibility of Fire and Rescue Services. This could include, but is not limited to, road safety, home safety, fire prevention activities and any other Community Fire Safety activities. Apprentices will work as a Community Safety Adviser/Advocate usually within a Fire and Rescue Service. People working in these roles engage with communities through various local and national initiatives. Full Community Safety framework details for England



The Emergency Fire Services Operations (EFSO) Apprenticeship is the Level 3 learning framework we developed to give fire-service employees the knowledge and skills they need for the job.

Valued by employers, it is an effective alternative to GCSEs and A levels that improves transferability and maintains high levels of employee motivation and retention.

The EFSO Apprenticeship:

  • - improves general literacy and numeracy
  • - increases productivity
  • - develops personal learning and thinking skills
  • - builds confidence and creativity
  • - improves social and working lives
  • - develops employability skills
  • - provides a career pathway into jobs

Full framework details for Wales


Full framework details for England


Skills For Fire & Rescue