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FIESTA supports National Apprenticeship Week

UK furnishing and interiors companies looking to build and develop their workforce in 2022 are being urged by the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) to take a serious look at apprenticeships this National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 February).

This year marks the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a seven-day celebration that encourages individuals of any age to reach their career goals by building their skills and knowledge through an apprenticeship.

Motivated by the 2022 theme ‘Build the Future’, FIESTA is encouraging companies to contact its Skills Plus service, an approved Apprentice Training Agency (ATA) for the furniture and interiors sector, to find out how it can help them build a better future through the introduction of an apprenticeship programme.

Skills Plus was set up by FIESTA in partnership with the Apprentice Management Group in 2018. An ATA can recruit, employ, access funding and arrange training for apprentices on behalf of employers and is designed and regulated to support both large and small members who wish to take advantage of the many benefits of the new training environment.

As of January 2022, the current uptake of Level 2 Furniture standard apprenticeships is at approximately 1,000, representing a significant increase over previous years. Besides the specialist furniture standards, Skills Plus also works with manufacturers on a wide range of apprenticeships and upskilling, from marketing and finance to warehousing and logistics.

Vikki Atkin, senior HR business partner at Ideal Standard UK, a company that has utilised Skills Plus, said: “Ideal Standard is a market-leading manufacturer of bathroom fixtures and fittings. We initially engaged FIESTA skills plus as a straightforward way of taking advantage of the Government’s Kickstart programme. Our Kick-starters made such a positive impression on the business, we’re delighted that several are now commencing apprenticeships with the company through Skills Plus.”

Tom Reynolds, chief executive at the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, a member of the FIESTA executive, said: “BMA joined FIESTA around a year ago because of the concern that future shortages of skills within manufacturing and installation could limit sustainable growth in the sector. We’re delighted that members such as Ideal Standard are starting to see the benefits of Skills Plus, simplifying the process of taking on apprentices.”

Companies that have made apprenticeship schemes central to their businesses have shown great success in recent years. Apprenticeships provide people with the opportunity to work and learn at the same time, developing key working skills alongside the theory.

John Richardson, production director of EE Smith, said: “Each year we take on approximately 20 apprentices across our Factory HQ, London sites and CAD design office. After earning and learning for the first few years they develop a sense of belonging and start to really evolve by working to their strengths. This may lead to a change in department or in most cases a step up the ladder to work higher up the ranks. All of our current foremen, managers and team leaders once started as apprentices and we find this really motivates the younger generation, showing that hard work really does pay off.”

Sean Sutcliffe, managing director at Benchmark, said: “I look at the apprentices that we have here, and they’re super high achievers. We’re turning out the highest standards of craftsmanship, not just in our locality but in Europe and that’s down to those guys.”

To find out more, whether you are an employer, training provider or potential learner, please contact Patricia Henry by telephone 07990 002072 or email tricia@the-ata.co.uk. Skills Plus also welcome enquiries from schools, colleges and other organisations supporting individuals into employment.

For more information about Skills Plus, go to https://www.fiestalearning.com/furniture-interiors-skills-plus/

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