The kitchen and bathroom industry must act quickly to avoid a “dramatic shortfall” in skilled installers over the coming 10 years, according to the results of a survey published by the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI).
The BiKBBI survey, which was completed by over 3000 installer businesses in March 2021, provides evidence Britain faces a shortfall in the number of skilled tradespeople able to serve the KBB industry.
With most of those surveyed expecting high levels of demand for KBB installation work, the shortfall in installers is likely to result in disappointed customers and hold the industry back.
The survey further revealed a third of sole trader installers plan on retiring from the industry within the next 10 years.
BiKBBI believes this will have a “dramatic” impact on the industry, with sole traders representing over
80% of the businesses surveyed.
Of those planning to retire, only 16% have plans in place for someone else to take over
Meanwhile, installer businesses that rely on skilled employees have little confidence new workers are coming into the industry, with only 9% saying there is a good supply of qualified installers ready to take on jobs.
And just under 10% believe there are a lot of young people developing skills and coming into the industry.
Chief Executive of BiKBBI 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.”
With the survey making clear the need for a new generation of skilled installers, BiKBBI has announced a nationwide drive to recruit thousands of apprentices to the industry.
Working in partnership with training providers, leading Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) The Apprenticeship Group, and End Point Assessor (EPA) Achieve + Partners, BiKBBI intends to generate 700 apprentice installers a year, starting this autumn.
The initiative is backed by significant investment from boiling water tap manufacturer Quooker.
Plans include leading a trailblazer group to agree an updated set of standards for the Level 2 Fitted Interiors qualification, campaign and partnerships with schools to promote the industry to school-leavers and supporting members with employment processes to ensure installers can take on apprentices without additional overheads.
Managing director of Quooker Stephen Johnson said: “Our industry has faced some of the toughest trading conditions ever over the last 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.”
Damian Walters added: “It’s going to take a huge effort to tackle this problem and our industry needs to show a lot of ambition.
“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.