Custodian expands after securing apprentice with government cash

North Shields firm Custodian Total Security Services has swelled its ranks with two new apprentices

Custodian Director John Reay with Kallum Whitelaw and Marcus Nef
Custodian Director John Reay with Kallum Whitelaw and Marcus Nef

A North Shields security firm that rose from the ashes after a devastating blaze has swelled its ranks with two new apprentices.

Custodian Total Security Services, which specialises in intruder alarms, CCTV and access control systems, appointed Kallum Whitelaw, 17, from North Shields with the help of a £1,500 Government grant to combat a shortage of skilled technicians in the security industry.

The company’s new recruitment strategy has seen its existing apprentice Marcus Nef from Whitley Bay also receive further training.

Established in 1976 as Custodian Electronics Systems by Otto Nef, the North Shields-based firm is now run by Nef’s son, Daniel.

After the fire in 2002, which completely destroyed the firm’s offices, staff took up a small unit on the North Shields Fish Quay in order to keep the company afloat.

It took six years before they got back to business at their original site in East Percy Street, North Shields.

Now with nine staff, director John Reay is looking to the future, and hopes turnover will hit £400,000 when the firm’s annual reports are released later this year.

He also hopes the firm will be able to grow by 10% next year – enabling it to take on more apprentices.

Reay said: “We had been looking for experienced staff to fulfil an upsurge in demand for our services for quite a while, but we were finding that some engineers tended to move from company to company on a regular basis and we also found some applicants lacked the knowledge required when working for an approved company.

“We decided that training apprentices from scratch again would be a good option. We know that apprentices tend to stay with you for a long time, which is a big advantage. It usually takes 18 months for them to be fully trained, but through on-the-job training and support from Access’s training programme, Kallum and Marcus are proving to be great employees; they are learning fast and delivering great results for us.”

Access Training, in partnership with Cablecom, is mentoring Whitelaw and Nef through the Level 3 advanced apprenticeship in Installing Security Systems.

Access Training has offices on the Team Valley in Gateshead and in Chester-le-Street, and offers apprenticeships in hair and beauty, social media and digital marketing, accounting, business administration, customer service, manufacturing, warehousing, IT and team-leading.

It is working with a number of companies in the security sector to supply and train apprentices.

The apprentices are working on fitting a variety of security systems for clients across the region.

Whitelaw, whose role involves assisting with installing alarms and CCTV systems, said: “I spent a year doing an electrical NVQ qualification after I left school and I wanted to get an apprenticeship where I could use the skills. I hope to make a long-term career out of this.”

The Government’s drive aims to support small to medium-sized enterprises that wish to take on a 16 to 24-year-old apprentice. To be eligible, an organisation must have fewer than 1,000 employees and must not have employed an apprentice within the last year.

Access Training has apprentice places available on its Security Technician Apprenticeship programme starting in September.

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