The first students on the pioneering installation apprenticeship scheme developed and approved by the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installations (BiKBBI) and the Government have begun their training.
BiKBBI, which announced at the end of August that it had become the the principle sponsor of Charlton Athletic Women’s Football Club for the next three years, said it was “delighted” that the initiative had finally gone live.
The trade body for installers confirmed that 16 students had started the two-year installation apprenticeship programme at a state-of-the-art facility at the Prospects College of Advanced Technology (Procat) in Basildon.
The launch comes after two years of planning and a significant amount of industry collaboration.
“It’s something we should be incredibly proud of collectively,” said BiKBBI chief executive Damien Walters, adding that without industry support, the training scheme “would never have materialised.”
In the organisation’s own publication, The Installer, Walters said that the initiative “has the potential to change the future landscape of our industry for the better, replenishing the workforce from the bottom up”.
“Equally, it has the potential to fail if we don’t get behind it. The Government is clear – use it or lose it.”
BiKBBI is planning on rolling out the programme across the country over the next five years as it aims to address the significant skills shortage challenge facing the industry.
Walters has in the past been vocal about the growing labour shortage problems in the UK, which are being exacerbated by Brexit as skilled installers from eastern Europe have already started heading home.
He has suggested that investing in training is one way to “get out of this mess”.
Meanwhile, BiKBBI said its new sponsorship deal with Charlton Athletic Women’s Football Club, which will last until 2021, “forms just the beginning of a concerted drive by the institute to introduce girls and young women to its industry, and for a vocational career within KBB installation.”
Walters added: “This is no ordinary sponsorship deal. Our industry needs to attract the next generation of installers and this should be inclusive with a fair representation from women. The BiKBBI has welcomed its first female members in the last few years but in all honesty, we are only scratching the surface so far, because the growth potential is vast as women can massively help narrow the current skills shortage.
“To underline the massive growth potential of women’s football and therefore the extended reach of the BiKBBI to potential female apprentices/members, it is estimated that over 1.1 million girls play kick-about football and the sport, just like the BiKBBI, is determined to break down barriers. For example, women and girls from some ethnic communities remain unaware of the opportunities which exist, and there are cultural, religious and social norms to overcome. The same applies to disabled women and girls. Organised sport, especially football, is possibly the quickest and easiest way to create awareness of these opportunities.”