FORGET Alan Sugar and his young apprentices - a teenager from
Wigan has spent her first week as the youngest apprentice with
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS).
Caitlin Alcock who is just 16-years-old, is one of 12 jobless
young people who have just started their first steps on the career
ladder in the first apprenticeship scheme offered by the Service in
conjunction with Salford City College and the National Apprentice
Caitlin, from Ashton-in-Makerfield left Cansfield School earlier
this year. She said: "It's been a really busy start and I'm really
enjoying it, I've always wanted to work for GMFRS and I've learnt
so much already.
"I know I've been lucky to be chosen and it's a good time to
join just before Bonfire Night.
"As well as having so many new names to learn they've packed
loads into my first week and I've been working across Wigan and
Bolton on different community fire safety projects."
Having been a Community Fire Cadet with GMFRS in Farnworth for
three years, Caitlin's involvement with the Service is particularly
poignant after her 19-year-old cousin Daniel was tragically killed
in an accident.
A metal drum he was cutting caught fire at a Wigan factory in
2005, when Caitlin was just nine-years-old.
She said: "Ever since it happened I've wanted to work for the
Fire Service, so getting this apprenticeship just after leaving
school has been great."
In her first week working with the Community Fire Safety team,
Caitlin helped colleagues deliver Bonfire and firework safety talks
to school children at Lowton *High School and at the Deanery High
School she helped deliver a drama workshop about the risks of
starting bin fires.
As well as going into schools, she also attended an event aimed
at women at a Bolton Community Centre. Caitlin said: "The
women's event was an eye-opener for me, it was aimed at the Asian
Community and it was all about giving the ladies fire safety advice
to take home and information about how their loose clothing can
"It was good to watch some of my colleagues speak in Punjabi and
translate the fire safety advice. It's all been really interesting
and I'm really looking forward to doing more."
Community Safety Manager Reg Dempster said: "In her first few
days Caitlin has shown a real enthusiasm to learn and develop all
the relevant skills that come with the role of a Community Safety
"She is very excited about the role, has been asking lots of
questions about the duties of a CSA and is really looking forward
to what's in store over the next 12 months of her
"She's been a real help and because of her experience with the
Cadets at Farnworth Fire Station, Caitlin already has transferrable
skills and knowledge which will no doubt be of benefit throughout
her development and she's already a valuable member of the
Caitlin's year-long apprenticeship was funded by The National
Apprenticeship Service, and over the 12 months she will work
towards a number of qualifications, as well as working in the
community carrying out Home Safety Checks, fitting smoke alarms and
helping people to work out escape routes.
Eleven other GMFRS apprentices have also been working around
Greater Manchester since the scheme began earlier this month.
Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority,
Councillor David Acton said: "We're delighted to be able to give
these young people a chance by launching an apprenticeship scheme
when the jobs market is so difficult.
"By working with Salford City College, the skills we will give
them will be something they can use in a career with us, other
public sector organisations and even in the private sector so this
next year should open up some real opportunities for them.
"It furthers the work we are already doing to improve the lives
of young people through a number of programmes by giving them a
potential route into work."
*Pictured is Caitlin with CSA Jared Black