A personal view about the role of apprenticeships in transforming the police from the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Giles York.
A career is more than a job
Policing has been a career of choice for many people for so many years. And for the majority of us, it’s more than just a career; it’s a vocation which makes us excited to come to work day after day.
We often hear of the challenges, the workloads and the trauma that can be experienced; a consequence of when we choose to do our duty and sometimes put ourselves in the way of harm. However, in one-to-one conversations with my officers, more often than not they will admit: “It is the best job in the world, I love what I do.” And that is the degree of personal satisfaction you get when you set out to make a difference for the better and see the results in front of your eyes.
There is a role in policing for far more people than they might think. The challenge is getting them to recognise that and getting the recruitment processes right so it’s attractive and relevant to join.
Recruiting people who don’t think policing is for them is the answer.
The changing nature of policing means that we need new skill sets that we must either develop in our existing staff or recruit into our organisations.
Alongside skills, we have the challenge, as a profession, to increase diversity within our workforce further, so that we are truly reflective of the communities we serve and protect. With just 7% of officers across England and Wales coming from BAME communities, there is still much work to do in this area.
To make real change, we need to do something different. Which is why, as the NPCC workforce lead, I have supported the work of the College of Policing in building new routes into policing, including the introduction of apprenticeships and professional qualifications.
The value of apprenticeships
The introduction of new entry routes, such as the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) – delivered at Sussex Police by police trainers and academics – not only recognises the complexity which our officers face daily but also provides real opportunity to bring difference into our organisations and help address both an ageing workforce and the skills shortage.
Within Sussex Police, we’re seeing increased applications to our apprenticeships from under-represented groups. In June 2018, applications for police officers increased 61% in just two weeks. Of these we saw a 114% increase in applications from females and 118% increase in those who identifying as BAME. Just this month (January 2020), over 400 people applied for degree-holder entry to be a detective, attracting 67% female, 8% BAME (against a local population profile of 6%) and those identifying with a disability at nearly 9%.
A cultural transformation
Apprenticeships also offer us the opportunity to evolve our culture. Many of us aspire to have a culture of learning.
Apprenticeships transform the way we support and develop our people combining learning between the classroom and the front-line.
This method ensures our student officers are prepared to problem solve effectively and resolve situations using a combination of their own knowledge, experiences and structured learning.
Keeping great staff
Once we have recruited successfully, we also need to retain those staff and that is why challenging and changing our internal process remains critical, creating an inclusive environment where people feel they belong.
I’m genuinely excited by the opportunities apprenticeships, and other entry routes into policing offer. We have a real chance to change the make-up of our workforce and attract new skills, people and experience into our organisations who will help us make a greater difference to the communities we serve and the victims we protect.