Blum UK's sales and marketing director David Sanders explains the direct link between education and innovation, and how the Austrian brand's policy of training young people is helping to secure its future.
Blum has been training apprentices for over 50 years, mostly in Austria, but also in the US. We have trained over 1,700 young people, and there are currently 406 apprentices in training with Blum at this time. This commitment to training is fundamental to the philosophy of Blum – we need to invest in our young people, maybe even more now than ever before. To have qualified, educated youngsters coming up the ranks of a business means that innovation is possible in a way that is much more difficult when simply employing someone who has trained elsewhere.
Our apprentices almost breathe Blum, and have intimate knowledge not only of our product, but also our company ethos and procedures. As well as this, they have grown up with their peers, meaning they have a very close relationship with all their colleagues. Innovation is the core of Blum’s worldwide success, and having employees who understand that means we have a self-fulfilling evolution.
For over 60 years Blum has had a proactive involvement within the KBB sector and as a result of this involvement we recognise our responsibility in helping the future growth and development. The industry has come on in leaps and bounds since the days of plastic runners and drawers that only partially opened, and this is all down to the continuous R&D put in by all sectors of the industry.
Young people are not constrained by the “we’ve always done it that way” mindset, and at Blum we encourage our apprentices to come up with new and innovative ideas. We have some projects that have had to be abandoned, or put on hold due to manufacturing limitations. But for every one of those, there are more that are now in full production, and we need young people to bring us these ideas. So it is natural that Blum supports greater educational opportunities within our sector, and we are proud to be a supporter of The Kitchen Education Trust, which is growing in influence and importance. We have sponsored students through the Kitchen Design Foundation Course at Buckingham New University, and also taken on apprentices at our Milton Keynes offices.
Our industry tries to inspire people to think differently daily and Blum likes to play a part in this inspiration process. It is central in enabling great designers to evolve, who are happy to challenge the norm when it comes to design. As a worldwide organisation this type of thinking is also central to how Blum operates and we are confident that by educating our young people throughout the world we can all continue to grow and prosper.