Friday, 3 August 2012

EDITOR'S COMMENT: School's out

Kitchens & Bathrooms News,
Editor Philippa Turrell
Soon after the summer holidays is a time usually associated with pupils returning to school and college. But sadly this may not be the case for Kitchen Installation students at WEBS Training in Nottinghamshire. Due to a change in Government rules, which sees the apprenticeship qualifications having to double in length, it means the courses are now more expensive to run. And, sadly, it could be the kitchen installation courses are no longer viable for its provider WEBS Training. It’s potentially a tragic blow for our industry, which has struggled to get the need for industry training recognised in the first place. And it also puts into perspective any wrangles over the focus of industry training – which critics had slammed for not focusing on design enough. What was a starting point in industry training certainly had to be better than none at all.
But even more importantly it signifies a huge hole in the kitchen industry career path. With fewer qualifications available, it could mean there is less chance of the kitchen industry being seen as a profession. While kitchen specialists are undoubtedly experts, a lack of a formal education could see them perceived as less knowledgeable than allied design professionals - even in their own field.
And how is the kitchen industry (or bathroom for that matter) going to attract new talent? Without a career path, carved by formal qualifications, how can the trade attract school-leavers or graduates? Affiliated trades such as architecture and interior design have created celebrity status professionals and sealed their status as coveted careers. Could it mean, then, that these will become a natural path – or even (dare I say it) the only future path - into kitchen and bathroom retail and design?
As an industry we should – and must – join together to support what training initiatives are available. Now, more than ever, we have to back the kitchen installation apprenticeships still on offer through North Tyneside Training Service and Mortimore Enterprises in Liverpool. And we must continue to lend our support to the likes of the kbbNTG, to help create formal training procedures in kitchen and bathroom studies.
The kitchen and bathroom industry is vibrant and design-rich. And it is now about time we showed the rest of the world just how professional it can be!
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