New training tie-up ‘a massive step forward for the industry’

The Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (Fiesta) has entered into an agreement with the Apprenticeship Management Group to launch a new initiative – Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus.

The new organisation will offer businesses a specialist apprentice recruitment service, Apprentice Training Agency (ATA) and Levy Management Company.

“This is a massive step forward for the industry as a whole,” Gary Baker, chairman of Fiesta, told kbbreview. “Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will be a pathway for employers to recruit and develop the skills of the next generation. Companies that sign up to Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will receive advice and guidance on the best training available to the sector.

“Through Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, micro and SME non-levy-paying employers will be able to access a much wider selection of funded skills training, while large employers can outsource the apprenticeship management to obtain best value for money and real-time monitoring from their apprentice levy digital accounts.”

John Henry, director at the Apprenticeship Management Group, said: “Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will enable employers in the sector to fill their skills gaps and look to establish training and progression plans both now and well into the future. Young people entering the furniture and interiors sector, and existing employees wishing to up-skill, are looking for learning opportunities and career progression, which is precisely what Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will help them achieve.

“We urge all companies, large or small, to take advantage of Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus and I am confident that they will reap the benefits in a very short time. Business leaders wish to focus on their core business opportunities and do not need to spend their valuable time and expense on seeking to access opportunities in training that we will do for them. I am confident that they will be delighted at the outcomes the Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus team will achieve on their behalf.”

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The Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus ATA will qualify as a levy-payer, so it can recruit and employ the apprentice on behalf of the host member. The ATA oversees all the administrative aspects of the apprenticeship, providing ongoing HR and training support, sourcing and contracting with training providers and funding agencies, and undertaking performance management reviews. The ATA also applies for relevant incentive payments on the host’s behalf, which can be used to offset their costs.”

However, Craig Matson, managing director of Roundhouse and co-founder of The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET), added a note of caution over the new agreement: “Just be aware,” he said, “that the one biggest requirement for the retail kitchen industry is the technical assistant and we haven’t got that approved yet by the Government.

“There isn’t a pathway to accreditation at the moment, but we’re moving towards one. We’ve come from nowhere, so it takes a bit of time. We’re trying to go down the architects’ route, where you have an independent, recognised formal education system with different levels.”

  • For more on this story, see our special training focus in the August issue of kbbreview

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