KBSA chair speaks out over ‘impossible’ apprenticeship schemes


KBSA chairman Richard Hibbert has responded to recent criticisms of retailer attitudes to apprenticeships in the KBB industry, calling current schemes “impossible.”

This is in response to comments made by BiKBBI CEO, Damian Walters. Addressing the ongoing dispute around apprenticeships, Walters said that the industry needs to put aside “archaic” preconceptions about the training schemes and “come together to fix the problem.”

“They aren’t archaic views. It’s fact, unfortunately,” countered Hibbert. “Those that have tried to engage and even had apprenticeships have found them impossible. The quality of learning is not good and the operators are often not available. Also, the colleges and learning institutions are unavailable at times.”

Addressing the need to bring young people into the sector, Hibbert suggested that independents “often take things into their own hands and employ young people to train up themselves”.

He acknowledged that “the cost is far more than getting an apprentice, but in reality it is far easier and far better in the long term”.

Hibbert argues that apprenticeships aren’t the only route to get newcomers into the KBB industry, but believes that “until there is better information, better coverage and more transparency, apprenticeships will continue to fail for independents”.

Hibbert added: “This doesn’t mean we don’t value new people coming into the industry or education. We just do it ourselves!”

In a recent poll of independent KBB retailers by the KBSA, the vast majority responded that they currently employ no apprentices, and also have no plans to in the future either.

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