The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation is celebrating a strong start to its ground-breaking apprenticeship programme as the first recruits get to work in beginning their installation careers.
Launched last October, the programme is a major intervention to support the long-term future of the industry’s workforce. Working with a network of strategic partners in the development of the KBB Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship, BIKBBI has created a solution that enables installers to take on apprentices without having to deal with complications such as recruitment, employment and training provision whilst creating job opportunities for hundreds of youngsters within the KBB installation sector via a national network of approved Centres of Excellence.
BiKBBI has developed the programme and the associated support service, BiKBBI Skills Plus, in partnership with leading Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) The Apprenticeship Management Group.
Following the launch, hundreds of employers and potential apprentices got in touch to express an interest in becoming part of the programme. Thanks to BiKBBI and the programme’s partners’ comprehensive package of support – which included carrying out over 300 candidate interviews – the first cohort of the new generation of KBB Installation apprentices have now started work.
The new apprentices include Archie Beadle, who recently joined award-winning Ace Plumbing, based in Essex.
Archie said “I’d started a college course but quickly realised that I would learn a lot more by actually doing a job in the real world. After I found the apprenticeship it was really simple to go through the application process – the team at The Apprenticeship Management Group were really helpful. The work I’ve started is hard but I can already see that I’m going to learn a lot of different skills, which will mean I will have a range of different career opportunities open to me in years to come.”
Paul Miles, Director of Ace Plumbing, said “We’ve tried taking on apprentices in the past but it has never completely worked out as they have not been quite right for us and, in most cases, have been studying for qualifications in things like plumbing that are only one part of the job. The BiKBBI programme has been nothing short of revolutionary though! I was absolutely blown away by the number of applications that came in and the quality of the final candidates. We’ve now been joined by a fantastic apprentice who is working towards a qualification that makes sense while learning on the job as part of our team.”
Another of the businesses that has taken on a new apprentice thanks to the support of the BiKBBI programme is SystemXL – the company behind consumer brand Redwood Kitchens and trade-focused KitchenXL.
Colin Tomkins, Director at System XL said “Apprenticeships bring vital new blood to our beautiful kitchen industry. Let’s train them well, celebrate their successes and help them set and achieve their goals – it’s a long haul, but the best formula to shape and build the workforce we want and need.”
Employers taking part in the programme have seen unprecedented levels of interest from potential recruits, with over 30 applications for every vacancy that has been advertised so far – a figure that far exceeds the average number of applications for apprenticeships in similar trades. Combined with the support being provided to ensure a hassle-free recruitment process, this means that installation businesses have been able to select the very best apprentices for them.
Stephen Gregory, an installer who employs Harrison Fish – the winner of BiKBBI’s 2022 Apprentice of the Year award earlier this year, believes that this is a major new benefit for installation businesses.
Stephen Gregory said “After a couple of false starts I managed to recruit an excellent apprentice but it was down to pure luck. Having him on board has meant I’m now making long term plans for my business and am looking to take on another apprentice. The BiKBBI Skills Plus programme means that I can go directly to a ready supply of strong candidates and have support at every step of the recruitment and employment process.”
John Henry, Director of the Apprenticeship Management Group, commented “We are delighted to be part of this really exciting time within the KBB industry and help the sector bridge the skills gap by bringing on specialist apprentices to be the workforce of the future. For each installation role that we are advertising, we are seeing unprecedented numbers of applicants wanting to learn real trades in a growth sector. This is bucking the trend in the overall recruitment market and shows the high level of interest in young people looking to acquire planning, fitting, electrical and plumbing skills and become installers.”
BiKBBI has been driving much of the interest with an ambitious outreach programme that is promoting the KBB industry as a viable career option to school-leavers nationwide.
Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, said “Seeing the interest that young people are showing in our industry has been incredibly exciting and I couldn’t be happier that a new generation of installers are now getting their careers off the ground. We established the BiKBBI apprenticeship programme to meet the urgent need to bring in new talent and head off the skills gap crisis. This is a great start.”
However, despite the high levels of interest being shown by potential apprentices and the recruitment support being offered to employers, BiKBBI is warning that there remain several pockets of ‘employer inactivity’ in parts of the UK.
Damian Walters, added “The entire industry now needs to help us kick the programme on by opening up more apprenticeship vacancies. We know that installers are crying out for talent to help meet unprecedented levels of demand for high quality KBB installation. Our apprenticeship programme provides all of the answers to this call with a fit-for-purpose apprenticeship in the Level 2 Fitted Interiors programme; a package of support to help with recruitment; and a growing pool of enthusiastic candidates. The job now is to spread the word about all that is on offer.”
To help the industry encourage more employers to take up the offer of the apprenticeship programme, BiKBBI has developed an ‘Apprenticeships Toolkit’. Available for free download, the toolkit provides a ready-made set of messages and assets for industry stakeholders to use in spreading the word and encouraging vacancies to be created among their networks – including template emails and social media graphics.
EDUCATION | STANDARDS | SUSTAINABILITY | COMPLIANCE |