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Excuse me as I am an old dinosaur, but I am intrigued about the FF Apprenticeships that seem to be getting more prevalent 

What is the difference between an apprenticeship and being a trainee? 

I note that an apprentice works shifts and as part of a watch, so do they ride appliances?  Is this after a period of basic training?

Are they paid less than a trainee or is this just a matter of semantics? - i.e. is a 'trainee' is now an 'apprentice'?

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From my understanding the only difference is the term used and possibly some of the development folder will be different. 

They’re still a trainee, same wage, same role it’s a just a way for the services to claim money from the government for providing an “apprenticeship”. £8000 a year per student 👨‍🎓 

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What he said! ^^ but no you're not being a dinosaur Messy as a lot of the apprentices (myself included) are pretty vague on the specifics!

In LFB you are trainee as you have always been, complete your Book (PDR) and ride and get paid egg. But on top of this you are supposedly working towards an apprenticeship.

All that means is that by the 15months mark (since starting training) you will go for a gateway assessment which is to conform you are ready for an an "End point assesment" with an external company at the 18 months mark to confirm you are competent in a set criteria of skills and knowledge. The reason I'm being so vague is because it still hasn't been decided what will be included in this assessment!

It is in no way linked to competency or competent pay. It's entirely different and separated. 

And as above, LFB will get a fixed amount back from the government and each apprentice will get a level 3 operational firefighter diploma which seems to be becoming the norm across all brigades in the country.

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In theory, the apprenticeship "should" be a measurable, quality assured, vocational qualification with clear objectives for the learner and assessed by someone qualified to a recognised standard….

I hope that's now crystal clear? No?

All organisations with an annual pay bill of more than £3m must pay an the Apprenticeship Levy. This fund can then be used to provide apprenticeship training and assessment to employees via a recognised training provider. The training can be to an occupational standard- such as firefighter, or a framework, which provides more flexibility around the qualifications to be offered. For example, my wife has just begun a Masters in Executive Leadership with her employer.

Unfortunately, in the greatest traditions of the Fire Service (and I mean LFB, in this context) it has all become a bit....messy...The current National Occupational Standards (NOS) introduced with great fanfare following the national pay dispute were also supposed to be a level 3 qualification. The NVQ should have been a measurable, quality assured, vocational qualification with clear objectives for the learner and assessed by someone qualified to a recognised standard....You see where I am going with this?

Currently we have firefighters on development (FFD) who are required to complete their personal development records (PDR) for the NOS- firefighter role map and also complete several "assessments" for the Apprenticeship. There has been no clear guidance to the candidates or those responsible for their development at station and it all feels a bit "let's just make it up and see how we get on".

More info on the firefighter standard

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Many thanks for the replies. It all sounds somewhere between 'half baked' and a 'dog's dinner'

But if the LFB are having to pay the levy, good luck to them if a few changes in the semantics used in FFD programme makes it possible to claw back some of that levy, as a taxpayer, it sounds sensible.

But isn't it just typical that the transition between one system and the other has been such a cock up

Thanks for the explanations 

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  • 1 month later...

Update on apprenticeships....

We (LFB) have been given a further update on the apprenticeship process, it includes:

Watch based assessments (drills, online multiple choice test and a professional discussion ranging from operational firefighting, values of LFB and even JESIP!)

A gateway assessment, as above but a longer test

An end point assessment by skills for justice which is as above but without the test.

Again, has no bearing on competency, just a qualification which according to the online specification, gives access to technician entry to the IFE.


Out if curiosity, does any brigade link the apprenticeship to competency outside of London?

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I was reading in one of the many fire magazines that are scattered in the watch room that all apprentice firefighters throughout the country are on the same process, maintenance of skills is the only difference.  In GMFRS ours is known as MiLearning. Not quite got my head round it all as I was loaded onto a different portfolio when I started, we were on Onefile then migrated across to MiLearning. Plus little support for apprentices at the moment, think there's only Su left to go through over 100+ of us !! 

End point is verified by an external assessor both development portfolio and operational skills but as each fire service has it's own 'isms' it should be fun when coming to marking if they're not up to speed with our procedures 

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Is yours the level 3 operational Firefighter apprenticeship?

We made the argument that if it's a national standard and externally verified then it should be classed as competency, instead of a subo/stno opinion you're ready to be signed off?

I have a mate who's station officer refuses to have him signed off before 24 months regardless, while my subo wants mine done ASAP as close to 18 months as possible! Surely attaining a national standard could be used instead to solve this disparity? Instead of someone at a one appliance relatively quiet station being signed off 6 months earlier than someone at a 2 appliance busy station based on one officers personal opinion on what is competent?

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Interestingly it does say though that after three attempts at the end point assessment, if you haven’t passed you can be run for a stage discipline on capability.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So update to LFB apprenticeships.

The tests to be done on station have been released. Some of the questions seem a bit "out there" shall we say. 

Supposedly the questions reflect the training you will have received as a recruit, yet the questions are asking stuff like "What building would be exempt from a fire safety order inspection" - No training given to recruits in this subject currently but it's multiple choice so can be worked out.

Others are plain wrong; "for BA re entry, how many minutes of air will a cylinder have to contain?" When re entry criteria is 190bar and max working time of 15 minutes. Lack of quality checks in the questions it seems

We also need to be aware of specific details regarding JESIP and civil contingencies act, which we were told to revise a month before the gateway assessment!

On another note... does anyone know of any brigades/FRS that use the apprenticeship process as a criteria for passing someone as competent? We have been hearing rumours that other brigades are doing this and wanted to know if it's true!

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Not sure about the lot on the slightly newer apprenticeship than my course, but competency was based outside of the apprenticeship side. Operated as 2 separate things through the 2 years.

The minutes for BA will be due to NOG I reckon. With the BA NOG, re-entry is down as 15 minutes minimum left in set. We, in Kent, worked to 170 bar before the NOG cave out and would annotate ECB as 170 re-entry, irrespective of they had more contents. When you look at manual calculations for the Drager set, 170 is 15 minutes anyway. 

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Can confirm with Rory, just finished the test and it’s utter bollo***. Never heard of Civil Contingencies Act in my life and there’s 4 questions on it? 

Also they got a question wrong. When using CPS/GTS, the recommended working time is 20 minutes according to policy. The answer on the exam was 25 minutes?

Or when in confined spaces for a long time you’d say common sense is a risk is damaging your muscoskeletal system. Apparently you’ve got more chances drowning than hurting your back.

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Other issues noted are (as it's a national qualification) the questions and answers are NOG based while LFB deviates from it in certain areas... meaning the answers often don't make sense!

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@Rory-495 have you done the gateway yet or EPA? 

My cohort all have dates for ours now

I wish there was more information about it given to us... maybe from the apprenticeship coaches, who arrange a phone call each month and don’t ever ring. 

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Gateway in 2 weeks

I literally had 4/5 tours notice which included Christmas to try and arrange with my sub a 2 hour watch based drill, professional discussion and await the test details.

No chance of that being sorted but had thankfully been drilling at the end of the year which kinda counted. 

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  • 1 month later...

@Rory-495 how did you get on with your gateway? I’ve got mine soon. 
Are they more strict with you or is it more like the previous workshops? 

Was yours at Park Royal? I think bit of a poor choice of venue for ladder assessments, but it is what it is! 

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