FIS Conference: Embracing change in the finishes and interiors sector

We have decided to go virtual for our annual conference this year, but rather than ask you to carve out a day, we want to make September a month focussed on understanding the drivers, embracing change and seizing your future in this amazing sector.

15 September: Confidence and competence in the finishes and interiors sector

Date: 15 September

Time: 12:00 – 13:30

With new immigration rules labour shortages have hit the headlines, but this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sector skills challenge.  The Grenfell Inquiry and ongoing quality issues have intensified focus not just on our future workforce but raises the question how do we effectively measure and manage competence in the sector?  We need to consider how, as a supply chain, we ensure that all involved in the design, procurement, management, installation and maintenance process are at the right level of competence to deliver in their role effectively.

This session looks at where we are at, how our workforce is evolving and how responsible businesses are reacting to the challenge.

Our three keynote speakers will cover:

  • Defining competence and setting a framework for success
  • The future of employment, how will construction be engaging our workforce in the future
  • Engaging tomorrow’s workforce and developing attractive careers in the finishes and interiors sector

These speakers will be joined by familiar faces from the sector to look at the key trends that are driving change and how the finishes and interiors sector is and will need to react.

  Guest speakers

Professor Stuart Green, University of Reading – school of Construction Management and Engineering

Stuart Green BSc MSc PhD CEng MICE FCIOB FRICS is professor of construction management at the University of Reading. He has over 30 years’ of research and consultancy experience relating to the UK construction sector and has published widely on the topic of industry improvement. He has written and co-edited several books, including Making Sense of Construction Improvement (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). He is especially well known as a longstanding critic of the Egan Report (1998) and its various derivatives. Previous policy roles in the UK include: CIOB Innovation & research panel (2011-2016), CITB Strategic Advisory Committee (England) (2015-2018) and Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (2007-2013).

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive, Build UK

 Inspired by a site visit during a week’s work experience, Suzannah achieved a degree in Construction Management before starting her career as a site engineer. She then qualified as a health and safety professional before taking over the reins at the National Specialist Contractors’ Council. After 13 years leading the specialist sector, Suzannah was the driving force behind the merger to form Build UK, bringing the industry together within one organisation. Under her leadership, Build UK is at the forefront of improving business performance, increasing productivity and recruiting, training and retaining talent across the industry.

Jon Vanstone, Chair of the Interim Industry Competence Committee (IICC)

The IICC advises on establishing the Building Safety Regulator within the HSE. Jon is a current member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) which advises MHCLG on Building Regulations and is involved in numerous committees providing expert advice to Government, helping to develop the future regulatory framework for buildings addressing competence, sustainability and most notably, safety issues.

An expert in the nuances surrounding defining competence of industries, businesses and individuals, Jon is the longest standing and current Chair of the Competent Persons Forum, a position he has held for almost seven years. Jon has worked with numerous associations and certification bodies throughout the built environment both in building fabric and building services. He is currently chair of Certass Trade Association focussing his attention on evolving the glazing industry for the future needs of the industry and its stakeholders. Additionally, he helped launch the accreditation programme for the roofing industry, RoofCERT in 2018 to 2021 and this year joined the National Home Improvement Council as a non-exec.

Jon has also spent four years as Chair of BEIS sponsored Trade Association Forum, aimed at promoting best practice for associations with a particular focus on governance. And is also a member of the BSI committee which is developing the PAS documents for duty holders and the overarching framework document 8670.

Panel debate

Our keynote speakers will be joined on the panel to discuss the key trends that are driving change and how the finishes and interiors sector is and will need to react.

Gareth Dunn

Service Innovation Director, British Gypsum

Gareth is a senior service innovation professional with over fourteen years’ experience across marketing, innovation, and supply chain management.

As part of his role, Gareth is responsible for managing British Gypsum’s national training academy network, made up of five industry-leading training centres across the country, as well as establishing college partnerships as part of the company’s overarching strategy to address the industry wide skills gap.

Gareth will be joining the panel discussion to discuss the key trends that are driving change within the industry and how the finishes and interiors sector is reacting.

Helen Tapper

Business Operations Director, Tapper Interiors

Born in Leicestershire, Helen began her working life as an electrical engineer in the materials handling and logistics industry.  Helen has now spent almost two decades working in the fit-out industry and holds the title of Business Operations Director at Banbury based Tapper Interiors, a family-run business set up 35 years ago.  In addition to her role in Tapper Interiors, Helen is elected President of Finishes and Interiors Sector.

  Other sessions in the programme

1 September - Building Trends


In our first session we are looking at some of the social and economic drivers of change, how society is adapting and the impact this will have on what we will be building over the next five years.

8 September - A Path to Net Zero


The CLC Roadmap to Recovery has laid out proposals to secure the future of construction, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery.  But what does this mean to projects in our sector.

22 September - Contracts and Risk

Is the contractual and procurement process now completely at odds with effective risk management, delivering quality in construction and ultimately making us uninsurable.

29 September - Quality and Innovation


We take a peek into the future and look at the technology that is shaping our future.