BiKBBI launches push for apprentices as survey warns of installer crisis

The KBB industry must act quickly to avoid a dramatic shortage of skilled installers, says a survey by the British Institute of KBB Installation (BiKBBI).

That is why it has today announced details of a new nationwide drive to recruit thousands of apprentices into the industry.

The survey that flagged up the looming crisis was completed by more than 3,000 BiKBBI members. It showed to a shortfall of skilled tradespeople over the next 10 years, made worse by high levels of demand for KBB installation work, which the BiKBBI said would lead to disappointed customers and hamper the UK’s economic recovery.

Sole traders made up more than 80% of the businesses survey and a third of those said they were planning to retire in the next 10 years. Only 16% had plans for someone to take over their business.

Installer businesses had little confidence that new blood was entering the industry to carry things on. Only 9% said there was a good supply of qualified installers ready to take on jobs and just under 10% thought there were a lot of young people coming into the industry.

Damien Walters, BiKBBI CEO

BiKBBI chief executive Damian Walters said: “These alarming figures remove any remaining doubts about the scale of the challenge our industry faces over the coming years. Put bluntly, we’ve relied for too long on an ageing workforce who are now looking forward to their retirement. We need to pull out all of the stops to prepare a new generation of skilled installers ready to take their place.” 

The new apprenticeship drive will see the BiKBBI work in partnership with training providers, leading apprentice training agency (ATA) The Apprenticeship Group, end point assessor (EPA) Achieve + Partners.

The initiative aims to generate 700 apprentice installers a year, beginning this autumn, and is backed by a significant investment from Quooker.

The plans include:

•          Leading a trailblazer group to agree an updated set of standards for the Level 2 Fitted Interiors qualification that has been successfully piloted in the South East;

•          A major promotional campaign and partnerships with schools across the country to promote the industry and the apprenticeship to school-leavers;

•          Supporting members with employment processes to ensure that small installer businesses can take on apprentices without incurring additional overheads.  

Quooker MD, Stephen Johnson

Commenting on the initiative, Quooker managing director Stephen Johnson said: “Our industry has faced some of the toughest trading conditions ever over the past year, but we need to have a strong focus on the future as we recover. Retailers and manufacturers alike rely on a highly-skilled workforce of installers to deliver our customers the very best service. Investing in BiKBBI’s ambitious apprenticeship programme allows us to help build this workforce for the long-term while creating career opportunities for a new generation.” 

Walters concluded by saying that it would take a “huge effort” to tackle this problems. He added: “KBB installation offers youngsters the prospect of developing skills that are consistently in high demand and the promise of secure, rewarding careers. We need to make sure that they have a clear route in, though. By doing this, the apprenticeship programme we’re announcing today will play a huge part in ensuring a positive future for the industry.”

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