BiKBBI survey reveals stark scale of installer skills gap

Royal Docks Development : The Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom industry must act quickly to avoid a dramatic shortfall in skilled installers over the coming 10 years according to the results of a survey published today by the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI).

The BiKBBI survey, which was completed by over 3000 installer businesses in March, provides clear evidence that Britain faces a shortfall in the number of skilled tradespeople able to serve the KBB industry over the coming years. With most of those surveyed expecting there to be high levels of demand for KBB installation work,  the shortfall in skilled installers is likely to result in disappointed customers and hold the industry back from playing a full part in the UK’s economic recovery. 

The most alarming figures revealed by the survey show that a third of sole trader installers plan on retiring from the industry within the next ten years. This will have a dramatic impact on the industry, with sole traders representing over 80% of the businesses surveyed. Of those planning to retire, only 16% have plans in place for someone else to take over their business. 

Meanwhile, installer businesses that rely on skilled employees have little confidence that new workers are coming into the industry, with only 9% saying that there is a good supply of qualified installers ready to take on jobs; and just under 10% believing that there are a lot of young people developing skills and coming into the industry. 

Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, said: “These alarming figures remove any remaining doubts about the scale of the challenge our industry faces over the coming years. Put bluntly, we’ve relied for too long on an ageing workforce who are now looking forward to their retirement. We need to pull out all of the stops to prepare a new generation of skilled installers ready to take their place.” 

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With the survey making clear the need for a new generation of skilled installers, BiKBBI is today announcing full details of a new, nationwide drive to recruit thousands of apprentices to the industry. Working in partnership with training providers, leading Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA) The Apprenticeship Group, and End Point Assessor (EPA) Achieve + Partners, BiKBBI intends to generate 700 apprentice installers a year beginning this autumn. The initiative is backed by significant investment from industry giant Quooker.

The plans include:

  • Leading a trailblazer group to agree an updated set of standards for the Level 2 Fitted Interiors qualification that has been successfully piloted in the South East;
  • A major promotional campaign and partnerships with schools across the country to promote the industry and the apprenticeship to school-leavers;
  • Supporting members with employment processes to ensure that small installer businesses can take on apprentices without incurring additional overheads.  

Stephen Johnson, Managing Director of Quooker said: “Our industry has faced some of the toughest trading conditions ever over the last year but we need to have a strong focus on the future as we recover. Retailers and manufacturers alike rely on a highly-skilled workforce of installers to deliver our customers the very best service. Investing in BiKBBI’s ambitious apprenticeship programme allows us to help build this workforce for the long-term while creating career opportunities for a new generation.” 

Damian Walters added: “It’s going to take a huge effort to tackle this problem and our industry needs to show a lot of ambition. KBB installation offers youngsters the prospect of developing skills that are consistently in high demand and the promise of secure, rewarding careers. We need to make sure that they have a clear route in though. By doing this, the apprenticeship programme we’re announcing today will play a huge part in ensuring a positive future for the industry.”

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