Editor of Kitchens & Bathrooms News Philippa Turrell says bathroom and kitchen industries need to close the skills gap
While the first image of a black hole had media prominence, splashed across front pages of national newspapers, the story of the student who created it seemingly gained far fewer column inches.
If this was by a prominent scientist, would there have been a bigger splash?
And could it reflect a wider attitude by society that those in study are less relevant than people in a full-time working environment?
Surely we should all be encouraging young people, with their unfetted dreams and ambitions, supporting them in their career.
And it further points to apprenticeships being provided to those already in the industry, rather than encouraging fresh, young talent into a career.
This cannot be good news for the kitchen and bathroom industry.
We all know the workforce is ageing and, with it, there has developed a growing skills gap.
Surely all industries need to encourage new blood, including the bathroom and kitchen sector. Otherwise how will the kitchen and bathroom industry progress if there is no-one to design or install projects?
Equally who will buy profitable businesses from those looking to retire, if the kitchen and bathroom industries haven’t attracted new talent to take over?
Of course, the kitchen and bathroom industry has worked on creating a career path, with the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation offering apprenticeships.
The Institute has even broached schools to introduce fitting as a career.
And New Bucks University offers a Foundation Degree in Kitchen Design, supported by manufacturers in the industry.
But it seems the industry must do even more to create greater traction for formal training routes.
Interestingly then, at the time of writing, the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliances (FIESTA) is holding a conference to help close the industry’s skills gap.
And it is launching Skills Plus to allow micro and SMEs to access a wider selection of funded training.
So, it will be interesting to see how that develops and what it truly means for all sectors in the kitchen and bathroom industries.
New generations bring new ideas, and importantly these are also the consumers of the future.
So tapping into their wants and needs, now, can future proof a business and sales.
Let’s all start to embrace young talent in the industry, look at how to build on training opportunities, and plug those black holes in the workforce.