West Midlands Police (WMP) recently launched an 80-place Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Apprenticeship programme and are keen to encourage local people to apply for available roles.
In partnership with South and City College, Bournville College and Job Centre Plus, a course was developed exclusively to support Job Centre Plus clients with application and interview techniques to gain access to PCSO jobs and a level 3 Customer Service Apprenticeship program with the force.
The programme engaged with candidates via Job Centre Plus to offer them the opportunity to join a three week pre-employment program. Initially over 60 candidates attended the assessment day, of which 13 candidates where successful and were invited to join the programme. On completion of the course each candidate was guaranteed a telephone interview, which was the first stage of the PCSO recruitment process.
Dawne Hay, Trainer said: “Working with West Midlands Police and designing and developing training to meet their specific customised specialist training was very interesting and challenging.
“As the tutor it was extremely rewarding to work with students who were so motivated and focused. It sounds like a cliché saying we went on a journey together, but we really did. Unemployment affects our confidence and to witness meeting them at the start of the programme and comparing the changes at the end of the course, it was clear to see a dramatic improvement of their personal and vocational development.”
The focus of the PCSO pre-employment course was customer service and communication skills which are key features of the job role. It was also important for the students to have an understanding of basic human behaviour, and whilst on the course, they learned how to tackle problems within the community, how to manage conflict and how to handle difficult situations.
Throughout the intensive, customised course, the students received a comprehensive presentation from the WMP Recruitment Manager and a visit and presentation from a PCSO to discuss the role and answer questions. JCP provided support, advice and guidance to the students, and worked on a one to one basis to ensure benefits were not affected by course attendance, that travel expenses were provided and that Job Centre appointments were re arranged and did not impact on attendance of the training course.
Students who successfully completed the pre-employment course were automatically invited to the telephone interview stage of the PCSO recruitment process, and if successful they would be invited to an assessment centre which includes a face-to-face competency based interview plus a case study activity. The final stages of the recruitment process includes the completion of vetting information, a medical and a fitness test.
The recruitment process is an intensive process and can take many months to complete before applicants can be offered a start date in the role.
During the different stages of the process, the college intends to support the Job Centre Plus students further by helping them to continue to improve their written English skills, which will be a valuable asset when working as a PCSO.
Jayne McCracken, Recruitment Manager at WMP said: “I am delighted that there has been so much interest in the PCSO role, and that local people have committed to a training course which will improve their chances of gaining employment as a PCSO. I witnessed first-hand the difference that
this programme has made to the participants' confidence levels and self-belief and look forward to working with some of the course participants in the future.”
Chris Fowler one of the candidates on the course said: “Before I was accepted onto this course I was working as a refuse collector.
“I attended the assessment and was very proud when I heard I had passed and been accepted for the course.
“I want to be a PCSO as I feel I can help make a difference in the community by keeping the public safe and building up important relationships. I hope to be a friendly face that the public feel they can approach.
“I will feel a more responsible person if I am accepted into the force and will be very proud of the career path I am starting.”