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Finding installers: it’s a fit-up!

The Rugby Fitted Kitchens boss comments on how the Apprenticeship Levy appears to be making the skills shortage in our industry worse

So the uptake of apprenticeships is down by 27% compared with this time last year, according to new DoE figures. This coincides with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy around the same time, so clearly this scheme is proving not to be fit for the purpose.

This is a bit of a stunner really. At a time when all industries, and not just the building trades, are suffering from a massive skills shortage, this is the last thing we need. And, to be sure, it’ll get worse before it gets better.

With only 114,000 new apprentices this year, there is Bob Hope and No Hope of us achieving the three million target anytime soon. In our business, developers are having to pay through the nose for skilled tradesmen who are walking off one site and on to another if they’re offered a higher day rate.

But worse than that, our prices are at risk of being squeezed, as more and more cash is being thrown at the build, leaving the developer and the consumer alike with less cash to spend on their kitchen.

We’re now much more involved in managing the kind of building works we wouldn’t have entertained a few short years ago, as consumers can’t find builders to do the smaller jobs. We’ve had no choice but to separate out room preparation from the pure installation of the kitchen itself. We now estimate the prep, but quote the installation. After the sale has been made, the lead installer will go in with other specialist trades, such as the electrician or the plasterer, and firm up on the estimate for preparing the space.

All we need now are more installers, so I was disappointed to read Damian Walters (BiKBBI) claiming installers don’t want to work for independents. He alluded to us retailers not being well organised enough and not good enough payers, saying “money talks”! Well thanks, Damian, that’s really helped loads..