Apprenticeships: Encourage next generation of installers

Managing director of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson says the industry must place more value on fitters and encourage the next generation of installers through apprenticeships

08 Feb, 23

Managing director of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson says the industry must place more value on fitters and ensure there is a next generation through apprenticeships

Quooker UK |

National Apprenticeship Week is a great initiative that looks to shine a spotlight on the importance of investing in the next generation.

As installation is one of the most important parts of our industry – it’s the lasting taste a customer or company feels about your business – for me, there is no question in that we need to place more value on installers.

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We need to think about how we work together to ensure there is a next generation of qualified and highly competent individuals. Put simply, if we do not, business fails.

It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that the UK is facing is a sizeable, and growing, skills gap crisis.

High consumer demand for installation and after-sales care is increasingly unable to be met with any speed and in many cases, without any guarantee of quality.

No matter how many taps we sell or indeed any kitchens and bathrooms across the industry, if there are not enough installers to keep pace, there is an inevitable bottleneck.

As such, it’s an area that requires drastic change and immediate support.

The growing skills gap is only going to worsen if decisive and real action is not taken now. We cannot afford to wait years for this to change.

Proper and sustainable foundations need to be in place for this to happen, and I am under no illusion that will take time.

Address diversity

One of the best ways change can be achieved is to raise the profile of installers and fitters. It has been the case for too long that they are treated as second-class citizens.

We want to change this perception and instil real value back into the role which is so crucial to the industry’s ability to bounce back.

One of my concerns with the current state of the installer market, is the distinct lack of diversity with regards to gender and ethnicity.

We wish to address this within our own business and through the scheme more widely. Women absolutely have a greater part to play in apprenticeship schemes and it is down to the industry to allow this to happen.

To include more women in the wider installer workforce, there has to be better education and awareness of the profession.

That’s one of the reasons Quooker has invested significant sums to support the BIKBBI’s apprenticeship schemes, including their Centres for Excellence and grass-roots outreach in local schools and colleges.

The goal is absolutely to train up more young men and women to be a part of the larger installer workforce.

The whole reason for this initiative is to increase the number of apprenticeships in the KBB sector.

There aren’t a lot currently out there, and it is our sincere intention to change that.

Invest in individuals

When it comes to apprenticeships, we must all be willing to invest in individuals.

As a company, we have recently introduced a mentoring scheme which looks to pair up experienced installers with younger team members.

This will allow the sharing of industry tips and unparalleled product knowledge which is something that can only truly be learnt on the job.

By offering this practical training scheme our hope is that we produce installers and fitters who are more confident and better qualified for future jobs.

We know training takes time and money, but if more KBB companies were open to this, the skills gap would significantly reduce rapidly.


Read Stephen Johnson’s view on how big KBB brands have a responsibility to help solve the skills gap of future installers.