BiKBBI calls upon the industry to take action to avoid ‘catastrophe’

Trade body unveils 'three-pronged attack' to rectify shortage of professional installers

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The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) has released plans to tackle the national shortage of professional installers, calling upon the industry to unite now or ‘risk future catastrophe’.

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A 2016 review, published by The Construction Leadership Council and written by Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy, identified an impending crisis relating to a growing shortage of skilled labour, titling the publication “Modernise or Die”.

The report identified UK government ambitions to build national infrastructure but warned a lack of tradespeople in both construction and refurbishment would prevent these ambitions being realised.

The BiKBBI says the growing shortfall is ‘one of the most significant challenges faced by the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom sector ever’.

The organisation plans on approaching the challenge in what it calls a ‘three-pronged-attack’ focussing on apprenticeships, professional development and re-training.

Working with the industry, BiKBBI collaborated with the UK’s first college of Advanced Technology (PROCAT, Essex), to deliver the Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship. The blueprint courses in collaboration with BiKBBI saw the first student cohort enroll in 2017, embarking on a two-year course, with the second starting in 2019.

Today’s announcement confirmed that this programme will now be rolled out nationally, working with a network of colleges and training providers to create official BiKBBI Approved Training Providers from the 2021/22 academic year.

The second strand of BiKBBI’s plan is Learning & Development (L&D). Earlier this year, the institute launched its L&D platform ‘BiKBBI Campus’ – an online training portal that works predominantly with suppliers and manufacturers to deliver technical training to members and the wider industry.

BiKBBI Campus Director Mark Parish said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the support for Campus so far, but we need more manufacturers to get on board and deliver training through the platform. We’re seeing learner numbers increase as many used lockdown to improve skills for themselves and colleagues.’

The final part of BiKBBI’s plan is retraining.

Earlier this year BiKBBI confirmed that it had signed The Armed Forces Covenant – a pledge to work with the Armed Forces Community by utilising some of the easily transferable skills that some former servicemen and women can bring to the industry.

The strategic alliance has already included working with The Ministry of Defence as well as other organisations and charities, with an objective of plugging some of the skills gaps at pace with disciplined, professional trades.

The BiKBBI is calling on the entire industry, including suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and retailers, to back the initiative by signing up at www.supportchange.org.uk

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Walters said: ‘Without support there will be no solution. No one else is leading a robust and achievable plan focused on installation, but without support and funding, this will not happen.’