Apprenticeship planned to reverse ageing health and safety workforce

A ‘Trailblazer’ group of major employers, supported by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), plans to launch an apprenticeship programme to attract younger people into the health and safety sector and help reverse its ageing workforce.

Jonathan Hughes, IOSH vice president, said the health and safety professional body expected that around half of its current membership would leave the profession in 15-20 years. Around 50% of its 47,000 members are aged 50 and over, while only 4% are under 30.

“We need to attract people into the profession from a range of different backgrounds; from engineering, environmental health, etc,” Hughes told the Health and Wellbeing at Work show in Birmingham this week.

“If we don’t do this there is going to be a huge impact, not just on IOSH but also the wider health and safety profession.”

The level three safety, health and environment technician trailblazer apprenticeship is expected to be offered in the second or third quarter of 2018, in order to make the career more accessible to younger people.

The 24-month programme, equivalent to A-level grades A-E, has been led by Costain and developed with input from employers in industries including construction, manufacturing, healthcare and the arts to “bring together key skills from a wide range of sectors”.

Hughes said there was a “complete lack of awareness” of the health and safety profession among university students and graduates, and noted that many people only got into the sector as a second career. He claimed that only 8% of IOSH’s members actively chose health and safety as a profession.

“IOSH is developing a series of initiatives to promote health and safety as a career of choice.

“We are working on creating a cycle between the skills demand of employers and the talent created by higher education,” he told delegates.

IOSH has plans to launch a future leaders programme to help support younger people in advancing their careers in health and safety by providing networking opportunities, workshops and site visits. It also hopes to offer student memberships later this year.

Hughes said: “We can learn from our younger and newer colleagues, so there’s many reasons to support our future health and safety leaders.

“Each generation has something to offer. The younger generation are generally better educated and more globally minded than ever before. Lack of experience doesn’t mean they are lacking in other areas.”

3 Responses to Apprenticeship planned to reverse ageing health and safety workforce

  1. Robin Dobson 21 Mar 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    Most apprentices are required to work under the supervision of a competent person for a given period after obtaining their certification. What arrangements are there in place to manage this issue for H&S apprentices? Most posts available to H&S practitioners are for experienced and competent practitioners and even assistant H&S persons are expected to be competent with relevant experience.

    How will the apprentices prove that they have the life and work experience and people management skills that are required for a competent H&S practitioner? This is something that can only come with time and relevant experience.

  2. Paige 8 Jun 2018 at 2:18 pm #

    I wanted a career in teaching children so I chose a route to study early years. Once I finished this 2 year course, I had a change of heart. I enjoyed the practical risk assessing, observations, and study of health, safety and wellbeing of children in practice. Since then I’ve been working but searching and contacting many people about apprenticeships. I think it’s really hard to find somewhere which can offer such an opportunity. I’m 20, and I’m aware of how to get into it on a very low stage, such as taking a NEBOSH Gen. Yet I enjoy practical work to aid my studying as it throws matters you can read in a book into reality. Once you’ve experienced first hand operations involved in certain H&S as simple or as hard as they may be, I would assume this would help fill the gaps in the theory of it.

    I’ve spoken to many bodies and companies, individual and tried to get work experience anything to develop my own experince. My current work place doesn’t offer the opportunity to be involved in anything that covers a vast area of H&S. I haven’t yet give up trying to get involved but again, it’s about the individual and how much they want to learn and put effort into becoming someone like that of their supervisor, trainer, etc.

    It would amazing to see opportunities rise for places in H&S as apprentices as I think it’s easy to be put off wanting to delve into this career due to the lack of knowledge and opportunity out there unless you’ve had over 2 years of experience and paid thousands on your exams. There’s not many sponsors out there unless your already in a company, for example, who offer you this opportunity to become part of their H&S team, regardless of what their current position is or whether it has anything to do with H&S to begin with.

    • Owen 17 Jul 2018 at 5:00 pm #

      Hi Paige,

      If you join a union you could look at the possibility of becoming a H&S representative in your workplace. This gives you the opportunity to gain qualifications and experience which can then be transferred to other roles.

      I started with USDAW and now after five years deal with H&S for my companies UK and European hubs.

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