Trade associations from across the UK furniture and interiors industries have united under a single banner, the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA), to combat the threat of a widening skills gap.
The new organisation aims to unite and inspire furniture and interiors businesses, helping the industry to become a sector of choice within the UK by facilitating internationally recognised skills development.
FIESTA will provide a forum that allows its stakeholders to identify, clarify, promote and engage with all issues and needs relating to education, training and skills for people of all ages and businesses of all sizes across the furniture and interiors industry.
The alliance will be employer-led and bring the industry together through an inclusive approach. It will aim to streamline skills provision to avoid duplication of resources and enable easy access to the highest quality education and skills training.
FIESTA will work with the British Furniture Confederation to communicate education and training needs to the government. The trade associations represented at the first meeting, held at Furniture Makers’ Hall on Monday 22 May, were: The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers; The British Contract Furnishing Association; The British Furniture Manufacturers Association; The Furniture Makers’ Company; The Kitchen, Bedrooms, Bathrooms National Training Group; The Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association; The Kitchen Education Trust and The National Bed Federation.
The need for a dedicated industry forum to identify and discuss education and training requirements was proposed at The Furniture Makers’ Company’s Bridging the Gap Apprenticeship Levy conference and welcomed by professionals from across the UK furniture and interiors industry.
Gary Baker, managing director of CDUK, the distributor of Corian® in the UK and Ireland, has been appointed as chairman of the new alliance.
Gary Baker, chairman of FIESTA, said: “It is an absolute privilege to be asked to carry out this important role. The launch of FIESTA is a major step forward. It enables businesses of all shapes and sizes from across the different sectors that make up the furniture and interiors industry to stand united to address education and training issues and work together to create solutions. If we can pull together with a common purpose, putting skills development at the forefront of what we do so the industry is attractive for people of all ages, then we will have driven change at a key time.”