Making a difference with apprenticeships in Policing
The evolution of apprenticeships within Thames Valley Police is an excellent example of how, as a force, we have enhanced our offer as an employer in recent years, work underpinned by one of our key values; that we strive to improve every day. Policing constantly responds to the challenges we face, with new digital technologies and ways of working transforming the way we deliver our service, and to do so at the highest standards means we require the very best talent to join our TVP family.
This week as we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2023, we are proud to employ over 500 apprentices within our workforce; including those in the vital frontline roles of Police Constable, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and 999/101 Emergency Service Call-Handlers within our Contact Management centres.
Ofsted recently visited TVP, focusing their inspection on our PCSO and Call-handling apprenticeships; grading the force as ‘Good’ overall with Behaviours and Attitudes judged as ‘Outstanding’. Of the 298 people that have completed those apprenticeships so far, 133 (45%) have passed with distinction.
In the past year we entered the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers for the first time, ranked at #61 and we have recently been announced as a finalist for the FE Week & Association of Employment & Learning Providers ‘Protected Services Apprenticeship Provider of the Year’ award. These achievements and recognition are testament to the high quality of education and support we provide and we are proud that our apprenticeships are going from strength to strength.
As with other industries and sectors, policing has to offer a range of routes in to the profession, including apprenticeships. This ensures we attract from the broadest and most diverse range of backgrounds and experience, crucial in today’s post-pandemic buoyant job market and important as we work to truly represent the communities we serve.
We have worked hard to ensure our all our apprenticeships are appealing to a diverse audience, as we endeavour to build a workforce reflective of the communities we serve. Currently of our 500 apprentices, 10.4% are from a Black or ethnic minority background, 53% are female and 34% are over 26 years of age – proving that you are never too old to learn something new and change direction.
So how did we get here?
TVP had been a subcontractor to further education providers for the delivery of apprenticeships since 2011. However, in 2015 when the government announced their commitment to improving vocational training and introduced the apprenticeship levy, TVP embarked on an ambitious programme for enhancing apprenticeships within our organisation, which would have implications for some of our key roles and bulk recruitment areas. In January 2017, we also became a training provider because of the specialist nature of some of the occupations we need to deliver.
At around this time the College of Policing, along with the police service, developed Policing Vision 2025, including the new Policing Educational Qualifications Framework (PEQF), resulting in new initial entry routes meaning initial learning in key roles would be formally accredited with a qualification upon completion.
In 2018 we opened apprenticeship entry routes for our 999/101 Emergency Call-Handlers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs); these blended learning programmes ensured our new people could earn and learn from day one. In 2020, we introduced our Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) and currently have 348 student officers at various stages of their training. This blended learning programme involves spending around 21 weeks at one of our training centres followed by periods of tutored operational learning coupled with academic elements, ultimately resulting in the achievement of a Degree in Professional Policing Practice after three years.
Looking beyond the apprenticeship
Apprenticeships at TVP, however, go beyond the academic. Not only do our apprentices achieve formal qualifications, but our apprenticeships provide the skills and knowledge for our employees to progress in their careers. For example, Richard Berry, Contact Management Centre Supervisor, joined TVP on our 999/101 Emergency Service Contact Handling Apprenticeship and secured a position as a Supervisor within just 20 months. With the help of TVP, he also achieved his Functional Skills Level 2 qualification (equivalent to GCSE grade 4), and was also supported throughout the process of being formally diagnosed with dyslexia.
Interested in finding out more about apprenticeships at TVP? Visit our apprenticeships page.