This month we talk to Tom Reynold – Chief Executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association – to understand why the BMA has joined forces with FIESTA and what this means for the younger generation.

Recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent in the bathroom sector is a challenge which is being faced head-on.

For years, concerns have been raised about a skills shortage in the sector, particularly at the higher end of the market.

As the economic fall out of the coronavirus deepens, we know the younger generation is being hardest hit by the rise in unemployment, and there are opportunities for us to support them and attract the diverse and skilled talent we need to sustain our sector.

The Bathroom Manufacturers Association joined the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) six months ago to address these issues.

As a Kickstart Gateway body, FIESTA enables businesses of all shapes and sizes from across the interiors industry to join forces, using Government schemes to tackle the education and training issues together.  

At BMA, our members are working with FIESTA’s Skills Plus Approved Training Agency (ATA) – a service to assist with the management of apprenticeships to create new, fully-funded job placements. These are exclusively for 16-24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment.

BMA member, Ideal Standard is already capitalising on the opportunity, with four young people starting their new roles in the first wave of the Kickstart programme.

With more support and guidance for businesses, we can increase the number of apprentices across the bathroom sector, and I would encourage everyone to commit to this. We need sector buy-in to make an impact.

The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, “Build the Future” encourages everyone to consider how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge for a rewarding career. The onus is on employers to play their part, building a workforce with future-ready skills. At BMA we know working with FIESTA is the best way to do this, inspiring a new generation of bathroom sector employees, and solving the skills gap in our sector.