A new £2.1m partnership has been agreed between the Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

The Fit-out Futures programme will address key challenges faced in the finishes and interior sector, including skills shortages, lack of new entrants and difficulty in accessing quality training.

The programme has received £1.5 million in funding from CITB. The flagship project is designed to bring in 1,500 new entrants into the sector by 2020. The Fit-out Futures programme will consist of:

  • BuildBack
    BuildBack has a target to get 980 unemployed people trained in drylining and into employment by 2020. BuildBack provides an opportunity for unemployed people to be retrained on a SUP (Specialist Upskilling Programme) for drylining at a local college over a two-week period, followed by two weeks of on-site work experience with an employer.
  • Further Education to Employment
    This programme will focus on engaging with students to be the next generation of construction employees. The aim is to attract 352 candidates to undertake four weeks of work experience with an employer over a two-year period.
  • Sector Engagement
    The third strand focuses on getting a fully carded workforce by 2020 by liaising with industry and students. The target is for 31,000 candidates to have been registered for any CSCS card that is relevant to the fit-out sector.

Andrew Smith, president at FIS, said: “Two years ago the FIS Board recognised the crisis in attracting skilled operatives to the fit-out sector and made ‘Skills Development’ one of the three key strategic objectives of the organisation. Our commitment included funding a new team for a limited period to demonstrate to CITB the capability of FIS to deliver the needs of the sector.

“This investment has paid off and FIS has now received funding to the value of £2.1m over the next three years to enable the delivery of large numbers of skilled tradespeople to our sector. Our Skills Delivery director, Helen Yeulet, ably supported by our CEO David Frise, can rightly be very proud of their achievements to date.

“FIS looks forward to the delivery of the project and to further expansion of the scope of activity in this area to support our industry.”

Mark Noonan, industry relations director for CITB, said: “As part of our reform programme we are committed to focusing on areas where industry needs us most, particularly through targeted funding.

“Fit-out Futures is a great example of these principles in action. Working in partnership with FIS we are pleased to be supporting this project to ensure industry is equipped with the skills and training it needs. This is an exciting programme of work and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this landmark project.”

Steve Coley, chairman of the FIS Skills board, said: “The FIS team has made a formidable coalition with the CITB to bring a new and exciting phase in training and up skilling. We look forward to delivering what we at FIS believe will be the start of a new beginning in how training is managed and provided.”