Apprenticeships: Investing in our industry’s future

MD of MHK UK and export director of MHK Marcel Crezee says apprenticeships are a business investment for kitchen retailers and in the future of the industry

06 Feb, 23

MD of buying group MHK UK and export director of MHK Marcel Crezee says apprenticeships are a business investment for kitchen retailers and in the future of the industry

MHK launches Kitchen Experts Concept

Whenever I am speaking to somebody involved in the kitchen business, sooner or later the subject crops up of how they ended up in this industry, and usually the story is interesting.

Seldom has somebody set out to be in this sector – most people have ended here by accident or a twist of fate. 

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This is a phenomenon not seen in other industries. 

Structured career path

If I cast my mid back to my time at school, at around the time we could start to think about our career path, if you wanted to be a doctor, accountant, train driver, carpenter, plumber, pilot or even racing driver, these were all professions with a career path.

Crucially, they had a structured entry program, whether that be through education, training or apprenticeship. 

If we fast forward more years than I care to mention, some things have changed, and crucially the pathway into the KBB industry is improving.  

And how do I see those benefits? Our industry is dealing with a well-documented skills gap at all levels and in each case apprenticeships are a large part of the answer. 

At the widest level, apprenticeships will unleash further potential in our industry, for all involved.

Benefits to retailers

I am always interested in how the independent kitchen retailer can win territory from the national chains, chains that have focused, intensive and structured training programmes to put in place the talent that is needed at all levels to make their businesses successful. 

They do this well, although they have to for the very reason that there is no external solution and no independent training. 

Apprenticeships fulfil this need for independent retailers and enable them to compete and win against their larger competitors. 

At kitchen retailer level, all retailers are interested in recruiting the best people at all levels, and almost every retailer I speak to cites the lack of candidates of the right calibre as the main constraint on expansion and meeting their business goals. 

The apprenticeship scheme gives this process structure and enables retailers to bring talent into their businesses and shape it in a way that directly helps their business. 

It may mean an investment of time now, but the long term benefits to both retailer, installer and the industry are clear. 

An additional and overlooked benefit comes into play in providing a retirement plan or exit plan for a business owner.

Bringing talent into your business with the long term view that they will one day be in a position to take over the running is an ideal solution, and one that apprenticeships fill. 

Ultimately it will be the end consumer that will benefit too, and the opportunity to raise the profile and prestige of our industry is a fantastic by-product. 

Future of industry

I would urge everyone to view apprenticeships as a form of business investment – in the same way that we invest in showrooms, display product, computer systems and staff, we should also invest in the future.

I realise it is difficult in a landscape where we are judged on short term results.

My role with MHK is one of looking at the horizon, seeing the bigger picture and communicating this to our members.

So, I would urge any kitchen specialist with a long-term plan and the desire to improve not only their business but the overall KBB industry to invest in an apprentice – they are the future of our industry.