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Published on April 26th, 2021 | by The GC Team

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BiKBBI plan to overcome “a dramatic shortfall” in skilled installers

According to the results of a survey from the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI), completed by more than 3,000 installer businesses in March, the industry is in danger of suffering a serious shortage of skilled tradespeople over the coming ten years. In response to the worrying findings, BiKBBI is today (26 April) announcing full details of a new, nationwide drive to recruit thousands of apprentices to the industry.

The survey, says KiBBI, “provides clear evidence” that, without concerted action from the industry at a time when most installer businesses anticipate “high levels of demand for KBB installation work,” the shortfall in skilled installers “is likely to result in disappointed customers and hold the industry back from playing a full part in the UK’s economic recovery.” 

Among sole trader installers, which represent more than 80% of the businesses surveyed, more than a third plan on retiring from the industry within the next ten years, of which only 16% have plans in place for someone to take over the business. “This will have a dramatic impact on the industry,” says KiBBI. A situation exacerbated by the fact that current businesses who rely on skilled employees have “little confidence” that new workers are coming into the industry: only 9% say that there is a good supply of qualified installers ready to take on jobs; and just under 10% believe that there are a lot of young people developing skills and coming into the industry. 

 Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, said: “These alarming figures remove any remaining doubts about the scale of the challenge our industry faces over the coming years. Put bluntly, we’ve relied for too long on an ageing workforce who are now looking forward to their retirement. We need to pull out all of the stops to prepare a new generation of skilled installers ready to take their place.” 

Working in partnership with training providers, leading Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) The Apprenticeship Group, and End Point Assessor (EPA) Achieve + Partners, BiKBBI intends to generate 700 apprentice installers a year beginning this autumn. The initiative is backed by significant investment from industry heavyweight Quooker.

The plans include:

  • Leading a trailblazer group to agree an updated set of standards for the Level 2 Fitted Interiors qualification that has been successfully piloted in the South East;
  • A major promotional campaign and partnerships with schools across the country to promote the industry and the apprenticeship to school-leavers;
  • Supporting members with employment processes to ensure that small installer businesses can take on apprentices without incurring additional overheads.  

 Stephen Johnson, Managing Director of Quooker (pictured) said: “Our industry has faced some of the toughest trading conditions ever over the last year but we need to have a strong focus on the future as we recover. Retailers and manufacturers alike rely on a highly-skilled workforce of installers to deliver our customers the very best service. Investing in BiKBBI’s ambitious apprenticeship programme allows us to help build this workforce for the long-term while creating career opportunities for a new generation.” 

 Damian Walters added: “It’s going to take a huge effort to tackle this problem and our industry needs to show a lot of ambition. KBB installation offers youngsters the prospect of developing skills that are consistently in high demand and the promise of secure, rewarding careers. We need to make sure that they have a clear route in though. By doing this, the apprenticeship programme we’re announcing today will play a huge part in ensuring a positive future for the industry.”

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