The KBB industry doesn't just need new blood – it needs young blood, says Simon Acres. Apprenticeships are vital for the sector's future.
Apprenticeships are a vital link in the employment chain as they bring new people into an industry, building a skilled workforce ready to replace those that leave. Without a regular supply of new blood, skills shortages become an issue, like the ones we are all experiencing in the KBB industry at the moment.
There are other factors which have contributed to the skills shortage, such as the pandemic and a predominately ageing workforce, but the failure of the industry to sustain a coherent industry-wide training and education system has exacerbated this issue.
The KBB industry is not the only one to have these problems – the number of job vacancies in the UK reached a record high of almost 1.3million in the three months to May 2022, and a radical change in attitude is needed if this situation is to be reversed. All companies have a moral obligation to invest in, and support young people to avoid the current shortage of workers becoming a long-term reality.
While there are benefits for businesses that take on apprenticeships, the system of how to recruit and fund them is not always easy, which can be a barrier. At Simon Acres Group, we have taken on two apprentices this year so that we can interrogate the system, so by doing it ourselves we will be able advise our clients on how best to navigate their way through it.
In recent years, taking an apprenticeship route has become an attractive option for young people who are looking for an alternative to an expensive university education. For the employer, this means that they have access to fresh young minds who are looking to learn.
Long gone are the days when the apprentice just made the tea. Apprentices can be given real tasks and make valuable contributions from day one, and starting as an apprentice is also no barrier to progression. Our own Jordan Burns, now group sales director, began his career as an apprentice.
Bringing young people into a business can also have a positive impact on the existing staff. Work we have done with Suzanne Skeete, MD of TT Training Academy, clearly illustrates that mentoring young people brings benefits in terms of self-worth and wellbeing.
We must all do more to attract apprentices and young people into the industry. It is for these reasons that we have come together with specialist industry software provider Compusoft, to host a careers day for teenagers looking to enter careers in the kitchen and bathroom sector.
This industry-supported KBB careers day takes place on Tuesday 11th October to bring together training providers and specialists to advise on how best to build a career in the industry. Young people who attend on the day will not only have access to a wealth of information but can secure FREE online training from Simon Acres Group and a FREE software licence for 12 months from Compusoft.
This event is the perfect launch pad for the new Degree level qualifications – Level 6 from The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET). This new apprenticeship degree will be easy to access and affordable, providing on-the-job training alongside academic qualifications. With approval expected within the next few months, it is hoped that places will be available at universities from 2023.
The Careers Day will include a live on FaceBook panel discussion and a series of presentations from the supporters that will cover design opportunities, types of roles on offer, career opportunities, how to get qualified and then, how to get a job interview.
Investing in young people will ensure that businesses are robust, ready for growth, and prepared to meet future challenges.