BiKBBI targets school leavers to address skills gap ‘catastrophe’


The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) has announced plans to launch a dedicated Careers Support Desk, aimed at attracting school leavers to join the KBB installation industry.

Delivered in conjunction with The Apprenticeship Partner, the support desk is the latest of the BiKBBI’s ongoing efforts to attract young talent to the industry to combat the skills gap crisis that it says is looming in the near future.

The support desk is planned to launch on August 7 and is intended to provide support and advice about apprenticeships to students following the A-Level and GCSE exam results days, which are August 17 and August 24 this year, respectively.

Students who access the service will be able to explore a career in installation and connect directly with advisors who can give them insight into these career paths. Additionally, the support desk will provide information on training providers and also assist students with finding employment.

This news of the help desk launch follows a recent paper published by The House of Commons, which found that apprenticeship applications had increased by 9% in 2021 and 2022. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has also reported that the number of university applicants has declined this year.

BiKBBI chief executive Damian Walters commented: “This change in behaviour is good news for those industries reliant on vocational courses and suffering from skills shortages, but it does mean that it is more important than ever that the KBB sector is visible and able to compete for future talent. Bringing young people into our sector is critical. On top of a well-publicised skills gap crisis, we have an ageing workforce which will only lead to further challenges and labour shortages in the future.”

“The Fitted Furniture Installer course is a fairly new pathway, and most school and college leavers will not be aware of the course and therefore might be thinking their options are limited to more traditional qualifications such as plumbing or carpentry. The BiKBBI Careers Support Desk is just one of a number of initiatives we are delivering to increase the profile of the qualification, attract fresh talent and encourage employers to embrace apprenticeships within our sector.”

Hannah Hockley, managing director of The Apprenticeship Partner and chair of the BiKBBI Education Steering Committee, added: “There will be thousands of education leavers that are undecided about their futures at the moment, and it is really important for them and the KBB industry that we highlight the career opportunities that the installation sector can bring.

“We want to go further than leafleting at careers events and posting ads on social media, and what we are creating is an opportunity for young people to have a conversation with a real person that can offer meaningful guidance at a time and place that suits them. The KBB installation sector, and the wider KBB industry, provides a vast range of opportunities and we believe this approach will go some way to promoting the possibilities to a fresh pool of talent.”

Apprenticeships and the skills gap crisis have been high on the BiKBBI’s agenda in recent years. At the start of this year, the institute issued a landmark paper addressing the installation industry’s lack of action on the issue, and the skills gap crisis was the main theme of Walters’ industry address at BiKBBI’s annual conference in February, where he referred to the issue as a looming “catastrophe.”

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