Malcolm Scott, Swift Electrical’s commercial director, says that there’s still plenty going on behind the scenes in terms of KBB training despite recent funding setbacks with the KBB NTG
There is much talk about the lack of activity within the training sector of the kitchen industry, and quite a lot of associations with their own acronyms, so what specific training is actually being offered and by whom?
The Kitchen Bathroom and Bedroom Specialist Association (KBSA) and its numerous corporate members have for many years supported an organisation called the Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom National Training Group (KBB NTG). Until recently, this worked independently of the KBSA under the stewardship of Renée Mascari of Mascari Design, ex-Whirlpool training manager Ray Isted and Tony Pace, regional manager at Magnet. The KBB NTG had substantial financial support and guidance from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), BSH Group, Hettich, Blum and all of the KBSA’s corporate members.
The support of over 100 KBSA corporate members made the KBB NTG the most widely supported training provider within the kitchen sector. It developed and delivered various courses including Kitchen Installation up to National Vocation Qualification (NVQ) Level 1 (basic GCSE level) and to Level 2 (high-grade GCS level). It has the added benefit of a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) health and safety card – a mandatory requirement for working on UK building sites.
The KBB NTG also delivered an NVQ Level 3 (A level) in kitchen design for showroom staff and worked with Bucks New University to develop the UK’s first ever specialist kitchen sector university degree course. It also worked with 10 other training providers, the CITB, Graham Hayden Training, Webbs Training, MDS Kitchen Design, The Bathroom Academy, Mascari Design, eSoftware, the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF), National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (Napit) and 2020 Design to deliver specific training to the kitchen sector.
Currently, the KBB NTG’s activities are on hold. However, other training organisations have emerged, such as the The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET), which is a charitable organisation set up by Craig Matson (Roundhouse), Johnny Grey (Johnny Grey Studios) and David Gillett (Blum sales and marketing director) to ensure that the New Bucks University degree course continues to derive as much support as possible from the kitchen industry.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has been working within all sectors of UK consumer supply channels to provide a range of simple, basic online courses, including many via the British Institute of Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Installers (BiKBBI), supported by Blum, and many via other business organisations. These enable continuous professional and personal development, for proprietors and employees, are not always industry specific, but provide an excellent source of basic knowledge on many issues.
A new organisation, Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (Fiesta) emerged during May last year, headed by Renée Mascari and Gary Baker (MD at CDUK, the Corian distributor), with the objective of coordinating training over the wide group of industry stakeholders, covering kitchen studio sales training needs, kitchen installation and design, as championed by the KBB NTG, but widening the remit to include other interior design sectors including soft furnishings and upholstery manufacturing.
The founder members of Fiesta are the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers, the British Contract Furnishing Association, the British Furniture Manufacturers Association, the Furniture Makers’ Company, the KBSA (and KBB NTG), TKET and the National Bed Federation. The association hopes to give a more unified voice to the training needs of the wider furniture sector.
So, while the short-term demise of the KBB NTG is a setback for industry-specific training, there are still a great many people, including Renée Mascari and Uwe Hanneck, working hard behind the scenes to ensure that kitchen sector-specific training is created and delivered to those who need it.