Recruitment crisis: ‘Give younger people a chance’

One solution to the recruitment crisis faced by independent KBB retailers is to give younger people a chance to join the industry, says designer Rini Vanchhawng.

Vanchhawng acknowledges that a young person may not have years of experience, but they could bring enthusiasm that can boost the company. She said: “People should give younger people a chance and not always ask for years of experience, as people can’t get that. It is more of a case that if you are hungry for it and excited to push forward, that will be the most powerful thing to boost the company.”

Vanchhawng was the inaugural winner of the Rising Star Award at the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2022, an award designed to highlight the young people in the KBB industry.

Now working for CAD design firm CGI Monkey, Vanchhawng started her career at Anthony Mullan Furniture. In the four years she was with the company, she went from intern to sales and design manager. She came to the Maidenhead-based retailer after completing her degree in Industrial Design from Bournemouth University.

Starting as an intern, Vanchhawng says she had a fantastic internship with Anthony Mullan Furniture as she was allowed to get involved with the design and the company. But she acknowledges that some companies just seem to use interns to make the tea. 

She said: “Some interns don’t have a good opportunity. When you employ younger people, you need to get them involved and interested in the work. You need to give a good range of tools. They will have a thirst for knowledge – so you don’t want them running around making teas and coffees. People want to get stuck in.”

And she points out that while interns may not have experience, they can come in with a new set of eyes on how the company is being run. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the business,” she explained. “If you are looking at things with a fresh perspective, they can give you an insight on how to improve things or make them more efficient. It is a case of listening and being open-minded.”

Vanchhawng believes that kitchen and bathrooms design is not seen as a career path by schools and universities, and so many young people are not even aware of it as an option. “To inspire people to join the industry, you should show the joys of the industry,” explained Vanchhawng. “It is all well and good saying ‘go design a kitchen’.

“But people don’t understand what’s involved. They don’t see the background, the excitement to be part of an industry that is swift-moving. Who’d have thought we would have hot water taps and extractor hobs? It is just amazing.”

Vanchhawng encourages recruiters to not focus too much on the experience but to look at the person. “You can’t change a person, deep down. That is just how they are. You just have to learn to adapt and understand people and play to their strengths.”

  • Anyone in the KBB industry looking for new team members can now post their job ads on for FREE. To celebrate the launch of the new self-serve jobs section on the industry’s leading business news site, all posts will be FREE until 5pm on Monday, August 1.
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