Apprenticeships and Qualifications

For advice on process or funding for getting yourself or your workforce qualified view our Skills and Funding page contact the FIS Team on 0121 707 0077 or email

Qualificatons and Competency in the Finishes and Interiors Sector

FIS Competency Framework (SAKE) – The FIS Skills and Competence strategy is built on the SAKE Framework, measuring competency through a combination of Skills, Attitude, Knowledge, Experience:

Skills: The practical application of knowledge learnt through on and/or off-the-job training.
Attitude: The mindset or approach required for competence, across the entire occupation.
Knowledge: The information, technical knowledge, and ‘know-how’ the individual needs to successfully carry out their duties.
Experience: The enhanced knowledge or skill acquired through practical experience.

Individual competence can be formally assessed through apprenticeships and vocational qualifications. Below we explore the range and qualifications that support competence and careers in the finishes and interiors sector.  We also provide frameworks that support the development of careers in the finishes and interiors sector based on the competency needs at each stage.


An apprenticeship is a job with training to industry standards. It involves a substantial programme of on and off the job training, with the apprentice’s occupational competence tested by an independent, end point assessment.

Guidance for Employers

Apprentices are of any age over 16 in England and Northern Ireland, 16 to 24 in Scotland (there can be exceptions for those over 24 years old) and 16 to 24 in Wales. Apprentices combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in an occupation.  Apprentices can be new or current employees.  Your apprentices will spend 20% of their time in off-the-job training making the employer responsible for 80% of training.

Your apprentice must work with experienced staff, preferably someone with coaching and mentoring qualifications to learn job-specific skills and apply their off-the-job training.

Guidance for Individuals

An apprenticeship is a job, with training. You are employed and paid an initially lower wage to perform a particular role, with an understanding that you will be trained through experience and qualifications to perform the role to a defined standard.

Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and a training provider will give you the skills to perform those tasks.

The skills you acquire as a trades person will help you progress right to the top. In fact, many successful managing directors of interiors companies started out as trade operatives first.

Vocational Qualifications

VQs provide a method to assess competence against National Occupational Standards (NOS) which provide a benchmark for competent performance.  The NOS underpin vocational training, apprenticeships, frameworks and qualifications across the UK, in all sectors and occupations. 

Guidance for Employers

National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) in Scotland provide the criteria for assessment to achieve and gain qualifications. VQ’s are competency based and the candidate must produces evidence of what they do at work.  Candidates must demonstrate their skills are current and prove their competency. 

Guidance for Individuals

A Vocation Qualification (NVQ/SVQ) is a work-based qualification which recognises the skills and knowledge a person needs to do a job. Candidates need to demonstrate and prove their competency in their chosen role.

It is a flexible route to becoming qualified in the workplace with no examinations. It is a requirement for gaining an experience worker CSCS card, required to work on site.

Careers and Competency Pathways in the Finishes and Interiors Sector

The FIS Careers and Competency Pathways help to map qualifications and training to the various stage of progress within the core trades from inductees through to supervisors.

You can download an example template for the Career and Competency Pathway for:

Further pathways are currently being developed through the work of the FIS Skills Board and core FIS Working Groups. Email for more details

A full directory of training courses available from the FIS Approved Training Provider Network is available here.   This directory is supported by a range of continuing professional development courses available directly from FIS and through our supplier network.

Integral to monitoring competence through the supply chain is the CSCS card.  Find out more about the CSCS card and how it is used within the finishes and interiors sector, here.