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April 6, 2017

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New apprenticeship levy begins today, but where does SHE fit in?

From 6 April 2017 all employers operating in England, with a pay bill over £3 million each year will be required to contribute to a new apprenticeship levy, and there will be changes to the funding for apprenticeship training for all employers. It will therefore in the employers’ interest to offer apprenticeships in order to reclaim the levy they have paid.

Apprentices are no longer just for school leavers, there are a wide range from non-degree (equivalent to 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C), through to Degree (Bachelor’s or Masters degree level).

SHE apprenticeships

The Government Construction Strategy aims to deliver £1.7 billion in efficiencies and support 20,000 apprenticeships over the course of this parliament, however, at the current time very few of these apprenticeships will be in Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) as there is not a formal apprenticeship available.

Apprenticeships offer young people a ladder of opportunity to gain the vital skills they and businesses need to succeed.


Karl Simons and Ian Nixon

The gap in the market for a safety, health and environment apprenticeship was raised at the London Health and Safety Directors Forum and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have facilitated setting up an employer’s working group to address this.

Karl Simons, Thames Water’s Head of Health & Safety and Chairman of the London H&S Directors Forum said: “I and my peer senior executives from the major employers meet quarterly throughout the year to share learning, drive standards and tackle the challenges faced throughout UK Industry.  There was a groundswell of recognition that with the growth of our profession throughout the UK, we have an opportunity to support the world of work through the development and implementation of a formal health and safety apprenticeship programme.  I am delighted with the work undertaken this past year led by a group of dedicated H&S professionals and am looking forward to the first apprentice commencing the new scheme”.

Costain volunteered to lead the working group, building on development programmes that the organisation already run for Safety, Health and Environmental Graduates and Apprentices.  The employer’s working group is being chaired by Ian Nixon who in addition to his day job as Costain’s Highways Sector SHE Manager, co-directs Costain’s SHE Academy, their development programme for SHE Graduates and Apprentices.

Speaking on this topic Ian said: “The high level of interest from a wide range of industries regarding the new SHE Apprenticeship has been fantastic and shows there is a real need for this across the country. I posted a social media message on this topic to drum up support and to my amazement there were over 5000 views in the first 24 hours!  I have received numerous offers of support and contact from organisations wishing to join the employer working group.  Whilst the employer group has its roots with CITB in the construction sector, the core SHE Apprenticeship will be suitable for any sector with pathways leading from the core elements to specialise in a particular sector, therefore we have been pleased to welcome members from a range of backgrounds. 

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In addition to Costain, the original employer working group included members from client and contractor organisations including Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Sisk, Persimmon Homes, Morrison Utilities, High Speed 2, Thames Water, Mitie, Sapa UK. Additional support is also being provided from bodies including Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), CITB, ECITB, ECIA and Unite the Union.

With the recent interest received the employer group is now widening beyond those with a construction and engineering background including the National Theatre, emergency services, nuclear clients and specialist assessment bodies.

The expression of interest to set up the SHE apprenticeship was made to Trailblazers in January 2017 and was approved by the Minister for Skills at the beginning of March 2017.

Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills said: “Apprenticeships offer young people a ladder of opportunity to gain the vital skills they and businesses need to succeed. By putting more control in the hands of employers, we are ensuring apprenticeships are high quality and address skills shortages facing industry. Congratulations to the SHE Apprenticeship Trailblazer for publishing their approval to develop their apprenticeship standard, and for playing an active role in developing the workforce of the future.”

Now that approval has been gained, the standard for the role will be developed and assessment process set. The employer working group continue to invite employers from a range of sectors, training providers and assessors to help shape the programme.

Anyone wishing to be involved in the development of the SHE Apprentice standard and assessment plan should contact [email protected]



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Brendan O\'Neill
Brendan O\'Neill
7 years ago

Great idea, lets hope it comes to Northern Ireland.The importance of SHE in all business areas is completely underestimated,and the best why to improve this is by starting as early as possible.A lot of SHE apprentices will be future managers in many areas, so its a fantastic way to highlight legal requirements and indeed saving lives , eyes, limbs or a lifetime of pain.

7 years ago

cracking idea but they need to get a grounding in all departments working for a contractor to understand all parts of the business rather just reciting an audit, they need to understand how construction works from the grass roots level upwards to really appreciate risk control and methods of work, which unfortunately nebosh cert and dip wont provide you with the people skils