A KBB Careers Day, hosted by KBB merchant and construction services provider, Simon Acres Group (SAGL) and specialist industry software provider Cyncly, was attended by a wide range of representatives from across the sector, who all agreed that working together is essential to bring more apprentices into the industry.
Representatives from trade associations, institutes, merchants, retailers, buying groups, training providers, DW&P, local students, and British kitchen manufacturer Omega Plc heard presentations from a panel, and then had the opportunity to take part in an open discussion.
“We are grateful to everyone that took part,” says Simon Acres Group sales director Jordan Burns. “There was a lot of passion in the room which led to some amazing and impactful points being made. The panel discussion was lively and productive, resulting in a number of meaningful action points for the parties to take away that could make a difference. All of the speakers expressed their concerns about the skills shortage for both installation and design roles and agreed that the biggest obstacle is communication and knowledge.”
Barry Moss from LEAP Apprenticeship urged employers to take action and access the £3billion funding that is currently still available for apprenticeships in the sector. He highlighted the lack of interest from employers by noting that only 137 students are undertaking the Level 3 Apprenticeship in fitted furniture design. He also said that employers can upskill their current workforce by putting existing employees through apprenticeships.
Renee Mascari, who offers kitchen design training and was previously CEO at the KBB NTG, highlighted the need for a comprehensive training approach to take on board technology and business skills for kitchen designers.
Charlotte Deprez from MKM Building Supplies shared how MKM has a rolling programme of apprentices across all sectors of the business, taking in not just young people but others who may be taking a career change later in life. She said: “We must change perceptions of what an apprenticeship is. Our apprentices are well paid, and given a clear path to develop and build careers across the group.”
Damian Walters, chief executive of The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) agreed, highlighting that it is possible to train from Level 2 all the way up to Master’s Degree.
There was a general consensus from all that the industry has a lot of work to do to reach out to young people, and those looking for a career change, to showcase the opportunities and rewards of a career in the KBB sector.
Jordan Burns also announced a package of support worth £5,000 for any new apprentice that would like to apply for FREE online training from Simon Acres Group and a FREE software Winner Flex licence for 12 months from Compusoft.