CTSI is marking National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February) by calling for a new £14m fund to support regulatory compliance apprenticeships and training. Along with its partners at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Institute of Licensing (IoL), CTSI is also celebrating apprenticeships as an effective means of embarking on dynamic and fulfilling careers in public protection.
Trading Standards and Environmental Health are responsible for enforcing a wide variety of laws that protect consumers, businesses and the economy, including food labelling, product safety, public health, housing and environmental protection. Recruitment and staff retention have proved a challenge in recent years however, with diminished resources forcing local authorities – which are responsible for operating Trading Standards and Environmental Health services – being forced to do more with less.
James Munro, Chair of CTSI, said: “Apprenticeships are fundamentally important to the future of our Trading Standards profession and are key to bringing in much-needed capacity to ensure the sustainability of the workforce. Trading Standards is an exciting and rewarding career choice for young people or those looking to change career, and the apprenticeship providers that we work with play a crucial part in achieving this.
“In our manifesto, which CTSI will be publishing shortly, we are calling for the next government to invest £14m for a dedicated apprenticeship fund for Trading Standards to create 200 apprenticeship places to bring much-needed resource into the profession to help protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses across the UK.”
Equipping the next generation
For individuals looking to pursue a career within the Trading Standards profession in England, the Regulatory Compliance Officer (RCO) apprenticeship operated by training provider Babington offers one route. CTSI is also working to develop the Modern Apprenticeship for Trading Standards in Scotland, and in Wales to develop the Level 4 Diploma in Regulatory Compliance apprenticeship.
The RCO apprenticeship saw a 25% increase in graduate numbers in 2023, and in 2024 a minimum of seven new cohorts will result in at least 150 apprentices starting out on their regulatory compliance careers. Ian Simpson, Specialist Trainer of Regulatory Compliance at Babington, commented: “The partnership with CTSI that recognises the RCO as part of the profession’s competency framework is working really well and is now an established route to career development.
“What is also fantastic to observe is the transfer of learning between apprentices when attending workshops. The new cohort has learners based across the whole of England from Cornwall to London, the East of England, Midlands, and the Northwest. As well as Trading Standards, learners come from national retailers, Environmental Health, and the finance and housing sectors. The quality of the RCO remains excellent, with 80% Distinctions and even a mention from OFSTED following the recent full inspection of Babington in December 2023.”
CTSI has also worked with the Trailblazer Group to develop the new Level 6 Trading Standards Professional (TSP) apprenticeship, equivalent to a first degree, which will increase access to the profession. The Level 6 Trading Standards Professional (TSP) has now gained further alignment with CTSI’s qualification framework and the assessments for food and feed and the Food Standards Agency’s requirements.
As a result of the alignment, those apprentices opting to study food and/or feed will only need to complete their training and coursework, which CTSI will audit, and then undertake CTSI’s Qualifications Framework Food/Feed oral assessment to gain the requisite competencies. This sits alongside other standalone competencies in food and feed that CTSI will be delivering in April.
Fiona Macaskill, Director of Learning & Development at the Credit Services Association (CSA), said: “The CSA has been working closely with the CTSI since the inception of the Level 4 Regulatory Compliance Officer apprenticeship and we are delighted that our partnership and continued collaboration resulted in the launch of the popular Level 6 Trading Standards Apprenticeship in 2023.
“The CSA is again pleased to be supporting National Apprenticeship Week this year with the theme of Skills for Life, and we champion that message as apprenticeships offer a flexible training solution that can benefit both those starting out in their careers, and also more experienced workers who wish to upskill or reskill, as well as addressing workforce challenges often faced by employers such as recruitment and retention.”
Richard Strawson, Head of Trading Standards at Hampshire County Council, said: “Now we have a dedicated Trading Standards Professional apprenticeship, this provides an excellent option for people and ensures a pipeline of future Officers for the profession. Other apprenticeships are also used to develop existing staff, providing excellent on-the-job development.
“Apprenticeships genuinely equip entrants to the Trading Standards profession with the skills and knowledge they need to do a great job.”
For further information about apprenticeships and the training routes available, click here.