Apprentice | Security

Apprenticeship programme key to ESS service delivery throughout COVID-19

ESS has been in business for 46 years. 2020 has been a year like no other for ESS, wider society and the local economy.

In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, the Belfast based security and systems firm has continued its operations throughout, delivering essential services across some of NI’s most vital sectors and projects.

From protecting national infrastructure, supporting the supply of power and energy to homes and businesses, to ‘feeding the nation’, working with a number of NI’s largest food providers, ESS has played a key role in keeping the wheels turning locally.

Key to ESS’ service provision has been the expertise and commitment of their young apprentices, who have been working directly on vital projects throughout the last few months.

ESS embarked on a re-energised apprenticeship programme in 2016, taking on apprentice numbers up to 25% of its workforce, with the majority still employed at the business today. Apprentices work with ESS in areas of engineering including electronic programming and systems installation, service and maintenance.

Speaking about the experience of the past few months, third year engineering apprentice Declan Carson said: “COVID-19 has brought huge challenges right across society and the economy in 2020. In working for ESS throughout this period, I am proud to have played a small role in supporting people and our essential services.”

“My apprenticeship with ESS has enabled me to gain first-hand industry experience at a critical time shadowing senior engineers and working on big projects. It has been a steep learning curve, however through both ESS and Belfast Met, I have gained a solid grounding in the skills required for a career in the security industry. As of today I have completed my level two and three City and Guilds Intruder Alarm course and electronic principles qualifications.”

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced a new apprenticeship scheme which will be created to encourage companies to take on young people. Locally, Economy Minister Diane Dodds has highlighted the need to enhance the supply of skills to support the economy in important sectors such as engineering and construction.

ESS welcomes the recognition and support from government in this area, whilst providing special praise for its current roster of apprentices:

ESS Non-Executive Chairman Paul Campbell commented: “ESS is delighted that their apprenticeship programme is providing meaningful workplace opportunities to young people, whilst also playing a vital role in the local economy. All current apprentices have shown strong commitment, skill and adherence to safety measures throughout the last three to four months, and ESS is keen to stress their importance and value to the business at this time.”

“People are the number one priority for ESS. Leadership is fully focussed on customers and staff. Not all apprentices make the grade – following a strict vetting process, a disciplined approach to education in association with Belfast Metropolitan College means that young people are gaining both theoretical and practical skills to thrive and work safely in security and electrical and electronic engineering. ESS is strategically investing in the future. The ESS Board and staff are sincerely and rightly proud of their efforts.”

The NI Executive in early 2020 committed to the development of an enhanced approach to apprenticeships to enhance employability and support economic growth. ESS looks forward to working positively with government and educational bodies in the future to further enhance the NI economy and to provide opportunities to young people within the electronic security sector.

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