Richard Hibbert, national chair of the KBSA, explores the relevance of training and education, and reveals why he believes that support from the entire KBB industry is vital to ensure it thrives in the future.
"When the KBSA was founded in 1978, one of the aims was to support training and education in our industry, and this remains true today.
"Over the past decades we have co-operated with numerous initiatives, the KBB National Training Group which worked closely with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), The Bathroom Academy, The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET) and The Furniture Makers’ Company among others, in order to keep the focus on training and education. We are currently a member of FIESTA, the Furniture + Interiors Education, Skills + Training Alliance where we are looking forward to the launch of the Home Kitchen Living Spaces Designer apprenticeship during the course of 2022.
"We are continuing to support the Foundation Degree Kitchen Design at Buckinghamshire New University (BNU), which started its seventh year this September. Over the last 12 months we have been in close contact with the team at BNU, and are delighted that they have now been able to launch the BA (Hons) Kitchen Design (L6 top-up). This course will build on the study undertaken in the FDA Kitchen Design, and successful completion of the foundation degree will allow automatic progression into this course.
"We currently offer bursaries to students wanting to study on the Foundation Degree at BNU, and know that other kitchen companies also offer this support.
"The pandemic has had a significant impact on the provision of training and education and also created a severe skills shortage, which has to be addressed by the UK furniture industry and retailers.
"Businesses which have been focussed on getting through the crisis, have neglected training and there is an urgent need to get it back on the agenda, if we are to avoid further crisis.
"As well as training those already in the industry, we must look at how we can attract more new people to begin their careers in the KBB sector. We have to shout about how fantastic our industry can be, and the wide range of opportunities available, while making sure that relevant training and skills provision is on hand.
"As part of the KBSA’s strategy to further strengthen training and educational policies in our retail sector we intend to reach out to other organisations worldwide, like the NKBA in the United States and the Furniture Trade College in Cologne, Germany, the only industry school of its kind in Europe.
"The KBSA will continue to work the industry to help promote the KBB sector as dynamic and exciting, in order to attract intelligent young people looking for a vibrant and challenging career.
"We need the support of everyone to build on what we have achieved so far. We need financial backing from those that can provide it, and smaller businesses to support those providing the training by enrolling their staff.
"As we work our way out of the pandemic we must all pull together to make the most of the new developments, working towards solving the skills gap, and continuing to raise standards and professionalism, for the collective benefit of our industry."