Opinion

Making apprenticeships fit for purpose

4 February 2020 | By Iain McIlwee

Iain McIlwee introduces the new FIS collaborative Fit-out Futures programme.

Iain McIlwee

FIS – the representative body for the UK’s £10bn finishes and interiors sector – has relaunched its flagship Fit-out Futures programme. This now targets a more consistent and effective approach to attracting new starters to the sector.

Changes to the programme enable FIS to extend its successful BuildBack project, which has over the past 18 months given induction training and employment opportunities to over 800 individuals who were previously long-term unemployed. Key target demographics are young people not in education, employment or training, the unemployed and ex-military service leavers. We are also interested in people retraining in construction.

There are two key elements to this work: a structured assessment and induction programme for finding and embedding new starters and a clear work-experience framework that supports employers in finding and managing work trials, connecting employers with college learners. The programme is also looking at addressing diversity across the key target groups.

Fit-out Futures is built on the principle that if we start people right we will reduce what is now a quite horrific waste of time and resources invested in training. In interrogating where people start and how they flow through our industry, there are clear areas of waste.

The fact that, while we recognise we have a skills shortage, almost 70% of students currently studying a construction-related course in college will never work in the industry is mind-blowing. If we don’t induct people effectively we end up wasting time and money training people who have no future in our sector.

Through Fit-out-Futures we are also interrogating what attracts and turns people off when it comes to the way we introduce them to the sector. We want to understand where we get it wrong, so we want to do it better.

FIS is now calling for employers, trainers and assessors to get involved. Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of the FIS strategy. FIS is well placed and open to developing key relationships across main contractors, housebuilders, local authorities and agencies.

In delivering Fit-out Futures Version 2, FIS will be making it as easy as possible for employers to take on new entrants and for new entrants to get skilled and employed.

Iain McIlwee is CEO of FIS. For more information visit www.thefis.org/skills-hub/fit-out-futures or email: [email protected]

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