A win-win for students and employers

17 November 2021, Julie Barratt, CIEH President and Alana Briggs, CIEH Network Manager 

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Students will hopefully now be very aware that CIEH has recently launched the new Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP) Portfolio as the second step on the pathway to becoming a Registered EHP. Completing the Portfolio requires students to undertake a series of interventions that would typically be undertaken by a newly qualified EHP, to reflect on them and to show that they are professionally competent and confident to undertake them.

The EHP Portfolio requires at least two interventions in each of the areas of environmental protection, food safety, health and safety, housing and public health to be undertaken, which interventions are broadly described in the portfolio. For some students, this will be a straightforward process as they will be employed by a local authority and have plenty of opportunities to undertake and participate in visits that will satisfy the requirements, however this will not always be the case.

There will be those students who are not employed in local authorities, but instead working in specific industry, retail, manufacturing or the third sector, while some who are working in local authorities that can offer some but not all of the visits, and some that are working in unrelated areas and want to complete their Portfolio. At CIEH, we are keen to support every student going through this, and to try and make sure they have access to opportunities that will help them complete it.

To that end we are relaunching the Directory of Student Training Opportunities (DSTO). This is a listing of training opportunities that students can access to help them complete their Portfolio. These will be offered by any businesses, local authorities or charities where someone is willing to take a student and give them the opportunity that they need. It might be an opportunity to inspect a house in multiple occupation (HMO), inspect a high-risk food premises or deal with an issue that might be a statutory nuisance, but will always be something that a day-one qualified EHP should be confident to tackle.

As with most good ideas, the way that the DSTO works is simple. It will be hosted on CIEH's website, with the individual opportunities broken down into geographical regions, with each region subdivided into the Portfolio headings so that students can quickly identify opportunities they need as close to their chosen base as possible.

Each opportunity will be separately listed so that students can filter to easily identify the local opportunity that they need and make arrangements to attend and take up the advertised opportunity. The visit will be arranged between both parties and to best suit the needs of the student and the availability and capacity of the training opportunity provider.

Most simple opportunities require a lot of ducks to be lined up and operating in perfect unison. The DSTO is no exception. To work well, it needs to be populated with lots of training opportunities. It needs a lot of training providers right across all of the sectors in which EHPs operate to be willing to offer up training opportunities and to host students on visits. It doesn’t matter if every local authority offers high risk food inspection opportunities or inspections of houses or every retailer offers inspection of warehouses.

The more opportunities we have available the greater the choice will be available to students and the less pressure there will be on each training provider. We know from past experience that the DSTO works and was valued by students, so our task now is to gather up the opportunity ducks and get them neatly lined up.

We need EHPs in every theatre of operation to consider whether they could offer a one-off training opportunity for a student completing their Portfolio. We have made sure that control of each opportunity sits with the training provider, who can describe what it is, when it is available and when it is not, what the attending student needs to do to prepare for the opportunity, such as providing PPE or doing some necessary pre-reading and finally can if necessary withdraw the opportunity if operational pressures require it to be halted.

If one or more opportunities can be provided, we would like training providers to submit them using our online form describing the requirements and limitations; we will do the rest. We will slot each opportunity into the DSTO so that students can search for and identify it and then make contact with the provider. If you would like more detailed information on the interventions contained within the Portfolio before submitting an opportunity, please email us at [email protected].

We need to assimilate a critical mass of opportunities before the DSTO goes live, so we are asking as many people as possibly can to think about the opportunities they could offer and to offer them up. We think that pretty much everyone can offer something, and every opportunity will be valuable.

We hope that everyone is interested in the future of the profession and in developing new professionals. Providing training opportunities is a very practical way of helping, as well as a good way of meeting lots of new entrants to the profession and maybe identifying an ideal candidate for a job that you might have available. Please support the DSTO – there is value in it for everyone, and a genuine win-win for students, employers and the future of the profession. We are very grateful to Buckingham Futures and those employers who have already voiced their support of the scheme. 

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