In the first quarter of 2018 FIS and Stortford Interiors began working together to design a unique initiative, to support Stortford’s ongoing vision for increased skills success, social values, future sustainability and new entrant growth and to create a template that could be adopted by other FIS members in the future.
The board of directors at Stortford Interiors overwhelmingly approved the proposal. The move from proposal to live project development was swift and to support the vision, a new pipeline designed to attract the next generation of talent to the company was created.
Project Futures – The New Flagship Initiative
Project Futures’ primary objective is to engage, educate, empower and enable every new entrant, ensuring their place in a company where investment in all employees is continuous, advocates real progression and provides rewarding career opportunities.
A bespoke apprenticeship route was identified as the most sustainable vehicle for the development of new entrants to the business. Over the next three years Stortford Interiors will recruit and train 30 apprentices in drylining and carpentry. Project Futures’ wider component parts will see the implementation of a new digital skills matrix system across all Stortford Interiors sites and furthermore identify and respond to all future skills requirements company wide.
The objectives of Project Futures align perfectly with Stortford Interiors’ commitment to Section 106 obligations*. Including the continuous identification of its future operational skills and labour needs, coupled with its commitment to qualifying, upskilling and ensuring the continuous professional development of its existing workforce.
Project Futures is jointly managed by FIS Sector Skills Engagement Manager Amanda Scott and Stortford Interiors Operations Director Paul Leach, with a dedicated support team positioned at the head office and all Stortford Interiors sites.
Amanda Scott comments ‘For Stortford Interiors it’s all about the people. People are its most valuable asset and Project Futures strikes at the heart of Stortford Interiors’ core values. Stortford Interiors think collaboratively, forwardly and differently, it’s an inspiring and committed SME company response to the UK skills crisis’.
Paul Leach added, ‘We are proud of the people we employ, and this extends to the next generation of talent entering our company through Project Futures’.
Jim Nania remarks ‘Stortford Interiors and FIS have worked hard to ensure that our flagship programme ‘Project Futures’ is the best it can be, by paying fairly and reflectively to reduce apprenticeship poverty, giving great benefits, structured learning, mentoring and development, all this helps provide a valuable and exciting first role in our core business’.
Jim’s inspirational leadership continues to drive the Stortford Interiors skills agenda. When asked, why he is such a passionate advocate of Project Futures, for Jim the answer is simple ‘there is, undoubtedly, a skills gap in our markets, therefore this is a sensible, practical and exciting route to bring in new talent to the company, enabling young people to climb on the career ladder early and gain fantastic commercial experience’.
As the voice of the fit-out sector, representing the sector, FIS recognises the importance of in banishing misconceptions, to champion the profile of apprenticeships mapped to a contemporary working environment. Amanda Scott acknowledges, ‘attitudes still need to change across the country, to acknowledge just how valuable apprenticeships are to the future success of the sector, industry and whole UK economy. But at Stortford Interiors, they are already one-step ahead of the game’.
* Section 106 obligations – ensure that developments complement and benefit the local labour market and economy by raising skills and enabling local people to compete for the jobs generated.