To support the new Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship Standard, with its pathways for Drylining and Ceiling Fixing and Partitions and to grow support for the existing framework in Wales and the Scottish Modern Apprenticeship, FIS is encouraging members to sign a new Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship Pledge.

The sector is being hard hit by a skills shortage, with a recent survey highlighting that over 60% of FIS Members are now impacted.  Problems are expected to worsen over the summer and, with new data from the ONS suggesting that the net migration of labour could be worse than many feared, a collective effort from the sector is essential.  In Q1 2019, the finishes and interiors sector was reliant on EU workers for 40% of its workforce – the latest ONS data, indicates that, by the end of Q1 2021, the number of EU construction workers available has fallen by a worrying 46%.

“The sector has relied on a flow of new skilled workers from the EU, but the new immigration rules have well and truly turned this tap off.  Before you factor in those EU workers that have left and may or may not come back, we need to fill the void left by those that would, in the past have come.  This means doubling our numbers for domestic training programmes.  For every 5% of EU Workers that do not return, this number doubles again!  We need to adjust our approach now and ensure that we are doing all we can to attract and train a new army of workers.  The Pledge is very much a rally call to our sector – we need to work together on this one.”

Commenting on the work so far, Damian Treanor of Errigal stated:  “We need to get acknowledgement that Drylining is fully recognised as a professional trade within our industry.  It is time for all contractors within the finishes and interiors sector to take a united approach in the recruiting, training and development of our young people to secure a stable growth for the future.

No matter what size of business, if you are developing your culture with a view to a long term approach we would encourage all to consider taking the pledge.

Like others, we have established a successful 2 year apprenticeship with an additional 2 years CPD programme to further develop skills and knowledge. The Drywall trade is at the forefront of all internal works within the industry and we need all major clients and contractors to recognise the importance of a collective training approach for the future of the trade.”

So far the initiative is off to an encouraging start with signed Pledges received from Errigal Contracts, Measom, Tapper Interiors, Veitchi Group, ATJ Group, Horbury Group, CG Reynolds, SCL Interiors and Platt and Reilly.  Already this collectively amounts to a commitment of over 150 new apprenticeships per year over the next 5 years.

The pledge is based on a focus on culture, commitment, collaboration and quality.  As part of its own commitment to the Pledge, FIS is working to build a network of Approved Providers, develop resources to support consistent delivery and working closely with individual employers to help align support, funding and structure their apprenticeship programmes.  FIS is also working to support recruitment through the FIS BuildBack programme and through the Government’s Kickstart scheme.  The work is being led by a dedicated Employers Group which is helping to support a collaborative and focussed approach.

Early adopter, Andrew Measom who has played an active role in the employers group leading this work added “Apprenticeships are essential in addressing the labour and skills gap in our industry.  They are a productive and effective way to bring in and grow young talent and develop a motivated, skilled, and qualified workforce. If a fixer has come through the apprenticeship, we can be confident they have been trained to a consistent standard”.

FIS Skills and Training Lead George Swann said, “by taking on an apprentice your organisation is investing in its own future, its own succession plan. There are numerous well documented benefits to investing in apprenticeships including a positive impact on productivity.  There is now no age limit for an apprentice and at this time there are a number of attractive financial incentives for employers.  If you need more information give us a call, FIS can help with recruitment, selection and finding a reliable Training Provider”.

Skills Hub

The Skills Hub brings together details of courses specific to the finishes and interiors sector, making accessing and booking training quick and easy. In addition, it provides information on sector careers, apprenticeships and funding, as well as access to e-learning, CPD and other training.