Qualifications and Apprenticeships

This section of the website gives you information on the core vocational qualifications and apprenticeships that support the Finishes and Interiors Sector Workforce.  It is not exhaustive and for advice on process or funding for getting yourself or your workforce qualified you can talk to a specialist member of the FIS Skills Team on 0121 707 0077 or email info@thefis.org

Breaking News: How to manage expired CSCS cards during the COVID-19 pandemic update available here.

Vocational Qualifications

Vocational Qualifications (VQs), National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) in Scotland provide the criteria for assessment to support the issue of the qualifications.  VQ’s are competency based and the candidate produces evidence of what they do in their work situation which becomes the basis of a portfolio that is assessed against the relevant occupational standard. The candidates must demonstrate that their skills are current and prove their competency over a period of time.  The on-site assessment and training (OSAT) route allows experienced individuals to gain a VQ.  Your assessor will visit you onsite to assess your competency and skills within your field of work.  You will be assessed for your practical skills and knowledge to the required standard.  It is a flexible route for individuals in the trades to gain the necessary qualifications to apply for an industry recognised card (e.g. CSCS).

It is becoming increasingly important to get your workforce qualified and FIS is supporting this by helping members and LOSCs to get the appropriate Skills Card.  If you need to upgrade to a Blue Skills or get your workers qualified and need to understand the options and funding available, contact the FIS on 0121 707 0077 or email info@thefis.org (see funding secured below to support).

Core Qualifications in Carpentry & Joinery

England and Wales – NVQ Options

Note Architectural Joinery sits in this suite of qualifications, however, is less relevant to the contractors in the finishes and interiors sector.

Other qualifications are also available

Scotland – SVQ Options

Funding to support Vocational Qualifications

If you are intreseted in getting NVQs funded to support the move to a fully carded workforce or need advice getting your Blue Card – FIS is here to help.  The CITB Grants Scheme provides funding for CITB-registered employers to train, upskill and qualify their staff, but you may also be able to benefit from localised support, depending on where you are in the United Kingdom.  FIS Members can organise specialist 1 to 1 clinics to review funding requirements and potential more on our skills funding clinics here

For some of the latest offers available through the FIS, click here (please note these are indicative and subject to change, always consult with the FIS team for the latest support available).  

Breaking News: Introducing the new Drylining in the Housebuilding Sector qualification download the report here.

The Apprenticeship Route

According to the Institute for Apprenticeships an apprenticeship is a job with training to industry standards.  It should be about entry to a recognised occupation, involve a substantial programme of on and off the-job training and the apprentice’s occupational competence should be tested by an independent, end point assessment.

Not all training is an apprenticeship.  Work experience alone, shorter duration training for a job, attending a course, or assessing and certificating an employee who is already working in the occupation, are all positive forms of learning and accreditation at work but they are not apprenticeships and cannot be funded through the Apprenticeship Levy.

If you are interested in taking on an apprentice, contact the Skills Team at the FIS and we will ensure that you receive the best advice in terms of funding options and provision.

Some of the key standards that we rely upon are listed below:

English Apprenticeships

There are four key trade related Apprenticeship  Standards covering the Finishes and Interiors Sector in England (that are  eligible for funding via the Apprenticeship Levy)

The existing frameworks for Drylining, Ceiling Fixing, Partitioning, Plastering and Carpentry and Joinery may still be offered, but are being phased out in favour of the above qualifications.  

Scottish Modern Apprenticeship

Modern Apprenticeship for Construction Specialist Apprenticeship has been developed by the SSC. This apprenticeship is managed by the CITB.

The Construction Specialist pathway allows you to study one of the following:

  • Ceiling Fixing
  • Dry Lining – Finishing
  • Dry Lining – Fixing
  • Steel Fixing Occupations

The full details of the apprenticeship standard can be viewed here

The Construction Building pathway allows you to study one of the following:

  • Wood Occupations (Construction): Carpentry and Joinery
  • Floorcovering Occupations (Construction)
  • Decorative Finishes (Construction): Painter and Decorator
  • Plastering (Construction)

Full details of the apprenticeship can be viewed here

Welsh Apprenticeships

Currently apprenticeships in Wales are being reviewed, currently the old Apprenticeship frameworks for England and Wales are still available – details available here

Apprenticeships - Guidance For Employers

Finishes and interiors sector employers offer Apprenticeship places because they recognise their effectiveness at increasing productivity, improving business performance and ensuring a committed and competent workforce.Apprenticeships: Employers’ Guidance

Notes from our recent meeting with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) on new employer responsilities when taking on an apprentice – read the guidance notes here

Archive of Useful Skills Articles from SpecFinish
Click here to open archive

Q&A: Getting started with Apprenticeships  – SpecFinish November 2019

Q&A based on learnings of the FIS Apprentice programme which exists to support employers in taking on apprentices.  This article looks at some of the common questions that crop up when we talk to employers about funding for and recruitment of apprentices

Demonstrating competence in the fit-out sector – SpecFinish March 2018

An article looking at the need for specialist contractors to demonstrate competence in the sector and how the CSCS card has an essential role to play.

SpecFinish January 2018

FIS engages the sector in readiness for Fit-Out Futures

FIS Focus November 2017

Disruptive Influence – how FIS Skills is shaking things up

SpecFinish November 2017

Consulting on a new CITB Levy

SpecFinish September 2017

Showcase your builds with #iBuiltThis2017

SpecFinish July 2017

HBF and FIS drylining initiative

FIS Focus June 2017

BuildBack to the Future

Interview: Mark Farmer

SpecFinish May 2017

FIS Skills delivering Fit-Out Futures

SpecFinish March 2017

Automated CITB grant claims are now a reality