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Apprenticeship appeal from FIESTA 

LivingroomThe main furniture apprenticeship standard faces being abolished unless the industry raises £20,000.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, the controlling authority on apprenticeship standards, has said that the current level 2 Furniture Apprenticeship Manufacturer standard must be reviewed before the end of the year as it does not meet its new guidelines.  

The current level 2 standard is the mainstay of apprenticeship training for the UK furnishing industry with around 1,000 apprentices having been trained through the 10 pathways since its launch in 2016.  

The existing single standard with pathways must be replaced by separate standards for each specialist occupation if government funded skills training is to be maintained.

Based on demand for the existing apprenticeship standard, the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance is proposing to rationalise the current standard, phasing out five pathways - Furniture Finisher, Furniture Restorer, Modern Furniture Service Repairer and Bed Manufacturer, while Furniture CNC Specialist - and creating four new level 2 furniture standards that will meet the new criteria laid down by IFATE: Fitted Furniture Installer, Furniture Manufacturer, Modern Upholsterer and Wood Machinist (incorporating Furniture CNC Specialist).

The approximate cost of creating the original standard was around £90,000, but the cost of deriving the four new standards is £5,000 each.  

‘This represents a significant allocation of resource and FIESTA is asking for industry support to make sure that these new standards can be developed before the deadline at the end of 2019. The occupations of fitted furniture installers, cabinet makers, modern upholsterers and wood machinists will be impacted most without a replacement, because employers will no longer have access to funded apprenticeship training, which would inevitably increase the skills gap in the furniture sector,’ says Gary Baker, FIESTA chairman.