The Furniture Interiors Education Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) is helping SMEs to access apprenticeship funding.
According to FIESTA, the Treasury took back over £300million of funds allocated to apprenticeships despite small employers being turned away.
It is because 90% of employers within the furniture and interiors section are non-levy payers, so providers were unable to offer any apprenticeships.
FIESTA has countered this by setting up Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, which includes an Apprentice Training Agency, which will be launched at its Closing the Skills Gap conference.
The Apprenticeship Training Agency circumvents the impact of the clawback and ‘access to training’ rules which means SMEs can access whatever funded training they like for apprenticeships.
Chair of FIESTA Gary Baker said: “We have laid the foundations for our sector to train new and existing colleagues in a range of qualifications from new entrants at level 2, to senior managers at Master’s degree levels and everything in-between.
“To get the message out there, we invite employers to attend the Closing the Skills Gap conference at Furniture Makers Hall on April 26.
“It’s open to all furniture and interiors manufacturers and will be the start of a country-wide push to engage members to show the opportunities in funded training that we have developed.”
Member of FIESTA, CEO of the British Contract Furnishing Association Jeremy Stein added: “Some of our sectors specialist training providers have had allocations against which our members could have drawn down funding, halved from May this year.
“We urge all manufacturers to attend the conference or contact us to understand how you can access the funded training you need; and engage with the providers of your choice.
“We were in danger of letting the far-reaching and excellent training opportunities simply evaporate through lack of funding.
“But we have worked hard to ensure that the full range of qualifications should be available to all of our members, either levy or non-levy payers.”