A new network of training providers and educational establishments has been launched by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), in order to create a respected Centre of Excellence. The organisers of the nationwide scheme aim to identify outlets that are already delivering high quality training to apprentices, and have included shopfitting, along with woodworking and joinery, in their project. Working in partnership with the National Association of Shopfitters (NAS), the network project will also aim to improve standards across the shopfitting sector, while reaching out to more potential apprentices.
The network’s aims
Employees and training providers have long been asking for better apprenticeship programmes that are more flexible and provide more satisfactory outcomes. The BWF’s website reveals how diverse the industry is, and how many different job opportunities there are for apprentices. The new network will attempt to address some of the issues organisations and employers have faced in the past. There have also been widespread concerns in the woodworking industry about the future of apprenticeships, after the current government announced plans to implement a levy on apprenticeships. This has led to worries that colleges will be less likely to offer apprenticeships in woodworking and will focus more on other courses and qualifications.
How it will work
The network so far consists of the NPTC Group, based in South Wales, Building Crafts College, of Stratford, London, Didac Limited of Bristol, and Leeds College of Building. All of the apprentices employed by these organisations will work and study using a standardised framework, and will be able to incorporate additional subjects or practical experience into their apprenticeship if their employer requires further or specialist skills.
This is partly to ensure that a specialist company shopfitting in Dublin, for example, can train their apprentices in the necessary skills. The network recognises that apprentices, whether shopfitting in Dublin, Cardiff or London, may require different training, depending on the nature of the work undertaken by their company.
All the learning centres involved in the network will be audited in order to ensure that they are meeting the network’s requirements. Benefits of the scheme include offering flexibility to apprentices and employers, providing unbiased advice, and promoting the industry to a wider audience in an attempt to attract more apprentices and encourage ongoing professional development among existing employees in the sector.