All kbb retailers should take on apprentices, if they can afford it, said CEO of Coalville Kitchens Luke Wedgbury.
Coalville Kitchens has recently employed an apprentice fitter, who has successfully completed his three-month probation period.
Luke Wedgbury commented: “We’ve got to play our part. I think it’s up to all the independents to think ‘if we can afford to take on an apprentice and train him or her to the standard we need, then we should probably be doing it’.”
Since fully qualified kitchen installers with experience are “few and far between”, Luke Wedgbury says recruiting apprentices benefits not only his business but the wider kitchen industry.
He exclaims apprentices help fill the skills gap, as well as underpin the work of his three installation teams.
Wedgbury said he has developed the apprenticeship with a long-term vision, offering three or four years’ training, with incremental rises in salary according to skill set.
“We’ve got to nurture these guys, make sure they’re happy and make sure they’ve got KPIs to work towards.
“This isn’t a short, sharp fix. We can’t have everybody taking on apprentices for a two-year programme and then them think they can go off and fit £70,000-£80,000 kitchens. It just doen’t work. Clients don’t like it; they want experience”, says Wedgbury.
He suggests poorly trained apprentices could also add to “cowboy” fitters already in the market, who have little or no experience, capitalising on the lack of qualified installers and subsequent higher priced work.
Before taking on an apprentice, he advises kbb retailers to consider the quality of work of their existing installation team, such as attention to detail, as the training of the next generation relies on their standards.
“Put the right apprentice with the right people and make sure everybody knows, the trainer and the trainee, that there is a long-term vision and a long-term goal, and I think you’ll be on to a winner.”
Luke Wedgbury now has plans to take on more apprentices for Coalville Kitchens, so he is employing “at least” two by the end of the year.