The KBSA has urged independent kitchen specialists to support proposals for a new industry training scheme, lobbying educational institutions and the Government.
Speaking at a specially arranged seminar at Potton’s Self Build Academy in Cambridgeshire, KBSA consultant Uwe Hanneck (pictured) said the skills shortage in the industry needed to be better addressed and called on independents to back the new initiative.
“We need a collaborative approach,” the former BSH managing director told kbbreview. “To succeed we need an organisation or organisations that champion all the required activities in a coordinated and consistent manner at a national level.
“We’ll need support from manufacturers, importers and other interested parties in all areas of activity. But much more importantly, we need proactive support, primarily from independent kitchen specialists. Without the retailer, we’ll get nowhere. If the retailer doesn’t demand it, there’s not much we can do about it.
“We need the support of some larger retailers as well. They have to support this initiative. And we need a collaborative approach from all the existing lobbying groups and associations. Together we’ll be stronger and be able to deliver what specifically the retail trade needs for a profitable long-term future.”
Hanneck also welcomed a suggestion from Dave Gillett, a lecturer on the degree course in Kitchen Design at Bucks New University, who said the college would be “the right reference point for a national centre of excellence for the kitchen industry”.
He also stressed that lobbying would form a key part of the new initiative.
“We will have to actively lobby educational institutions and drive demand in order to get them to deliver industry-specific courses,” he said. “If we don’t demand, nobody will deliver.
“Our industry has to lobby Government and ministers and also work with the CITB, Proskills and others to give our financial support. All the Government can do is kick-start the idea and then say, ‘get on with it’. If we don’t do it, nothing will happen. The Government will not enforce it, they can only guide us.”
The news comes only days after the KBSA announced that the Kitchen Bedroom Bathroom National Training Group (KBB NTG) has been dissolved.
In a statement, the KBSA said that it was working with KBB NTG Ltd “to ensure ongoing training support of the kitchen industry during this period of change”.
The training group was run by chief executive Renée Mascari, co-owner of Nottingham-based kitchen retailer Mascari Design, chairman Ray Isted, previously head of training at Whirlpool, and vice-chairman Tony Pace.
“We are working towards safeguarding the excellent work and achievements carried out by Renée Mascari and the NTG,” said Tina Riley, KBSA national chair.
“The KBSA would like to take this opportunity to thank Renée for her hard work and excellent achievements on behalf of the kitchen industry. We wish Renée continued success with her kitchen studio and design practice, which she wishes to dedicate more time to.”
But the new KBSA initiative received a mixed reaction from attendees at the seminar, which was organised by veteran designer James Herriot of Callerton Kitchens.
“Funding models will be very important here,” said Articad marketing director Theresa Turner. “I’m very nervous about this, because if we say we want to create an educational pathway I don’t think that can be retailer-funded. If it is, and it’s going to get political, it isn’t going to work. It hasn’t worked so far. Unless we look at innovative ways of overcoming those issues and creating a vision for design businesses I don’t think it will get off the ground.”