‘It’s your duty to embrace apprenticeships’ urges BiKBBI chief

The KBB industry is being urged to support a “game-changing” new initiative from the British Institute of Kitchen Bedroom Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) which it says will help tackle the installer skills gap crisis.

According to the BiKBBI, its new KBB Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship programme is set to provide hundreds of youngsters with career opportunities within the KBB installation sector.

The institute has also launched what it describes as a “ground-breaking” employer support package alongside the new apprenticeship, which it says will offer installation businesses easy and affordable access to apprentices.

Recognising that most installers are small businesses, the BiKBBI says this employer package will enable them to take on apprentices and have all wages and other costs covered for as little as £210 per week – breaking down some of the biggest barriers to supporting this vocational route to employment.

Damian Walters (pictured), chief executive of the BiKBBI, said: “Covid has exposed a problem that has been festering for years – an installation skills gap crisis. The industry is currently facing unacceptable lead times on installations. This is a real problem that is hitting our industry now and something that will create further challenges for us in the future, unless a solution is found to plug this gap.

BiKBBI KBB Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship
BiKBBI KBB Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship

“As an industry we cannot be OK with this – anyone that operates in the KBB market has a duty to fix this issue and with the KBB Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship programme we [BiKBBI] believe we have the solution and we are urging the industry to embrace this and get behind apprenticeships.  

“This is a real game-changer for our industry and it’s going to make a real difference for hundreds of installation businesses. In the last couple of years, we’ve had over 700 of our members get in touch to express an interest in taking on an apprentice, but until now many have found it difficult to deal with the cost and bureaucracy of doing so. That’s why we’ve worked so hard to put this package of support together. It means that for the first time, installation businesses of all sizes can afford to take on an apprentice and grow their businesses, without the complication sometimes associated with apprenticeships.”

The launch of the apprenticeship package follows stark evidence of the dire need to bring new recruits into the KBB industry, with a recent BiKBBI survey revealing that a third of sole trader installers plan on retiring from the industry within the next 10 years and less than 10% of employers believe there is a good supply of qualified installers.

The BiKBBI apprenticeship package addresses the following key points:

  • The recruitment of high-quality apprentices, including advertising vacancies, vetting applicants and carrying out all eligibility checks;
  • All employment administration, including contracts and paperwork, health and safety checks, and running payroll for the apprentice;
  • All of the training requirements, including placing the apprentice with an accredited training provider (BiKBBI Centre of Excellence), monitoring the apprentice’s progress and arranging for the end point assessment needed to complete the apprenticeship;
  • All performance management and support for the apprentice – freeing up the installation business to focus on the work itself;
  • The process to complete the apprenticeship, ensuring that the apprentice is ready to transition into the next phase of their career.

The BiKBBI is now set to begin a nationwide programme of outreach in schools and communities across the UK to promote the apprenticeship and the opportunities that a career in KBB installation offers young people.

Backed by a three-year funding pledge from Quooker, BIKBBI said it expects this initiative to lead to more than 500 new apprentices entering the KBB industry every year. Campaign activity will include working closely with the college recruitment departments and visiting schools to generate interest in KBB installation careers. BIKBBI is also in discussions with a number of charities and community groups to develop recruitment campaigns within underrepresented communities, helping to ensure that people from all backgrounds take up the opportunities of a KBB installation apprenticeship.

Damian Walters added: “All of the pieces are in place to provide youngsters a route into our industry, our job now is to help them recognise the opportunity that’s on offer. We’re going to spread the word of how a career in KBB installation offers young people from all backgrounds a way to quickly make a very good living in a trade that’s constantly in demand.”

The news, following yesterday’s Autumn budget, that Government funding for apprenticeships will increase to £2.7 billion will only help to raise awareness of the importance of vocational education opportunities.  

For more information on how you can help support the new apprenticeship programme go to https://www.bikbbi.org.uk/apprenticeships/

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