Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors - Non Statutory (Wales)

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Framework ID: FR02245
Issue number: 8
Issued: 18 June 2013

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Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors - Non Statutory (Wales)
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The Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry is of significant importance to the UK economy, particularly in the supply of end products for residential and commercial living and work places. The industry has an annual turnover well in excess of £12 billion.

The Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industries are traditionally segmented into three main sectors which cover:

  • Domestic - serving the public through retail outlets
  • Office - desk, seating, tables and other items for the office environment
  • Contract - furniture for public areas such as hospitals, schools, hotels and airports

The industry also includes disciplines such as restoration, upholstery, soft furnishings and both kitchen and garden furniture.

Proskills identifies that the total size of the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors Manufacturing sector in the UK is currently around 145,000 people in 12,000 companies. 80% of manufacturers are micro companies operating with less than 10 employees. Around 90% of the industry employs fewer than 50 people.

Although there is likely to be a drop in the overall size of the Welsh workforce during the coming decade, industries in Wales will still require additional workers in this period. There is predicted to be a fall in lower level occupations but a rise in the demand for higher skills as continuing automation of processes requires more highly skilled workers. Proskills will continue to work with employers across Wales to ensure that the right skills platform is in place and the right framework exists to support skills investment. This is in line
with the aims and objectives set out in the "Skills That Work for Wales" strategy. For more information please read:

The production of furniture has traditionally been a skilled craft and, although becoming increasingly automated, the Furniture industry still classes around a third of its workforce as  being “skilled trades”. Plant/Process Machine Operatives and Managers are, however, becoming increasingly prominent, accounting for around 16-20% of the total workforce.

A recent Labour Force Survey shows that 88% of the Furniture industry workforce is full time and 71% are male. Many companies report issues with skills gaps with skills shortages particularly prevalent amongst front line staff, technical staff and at managerial and supervisory level. These skills gaps have a significant impact on company profitability.

As well as increasing operating costs, skills gap issues in the Furniture industry also increase the workload for other staff and create difficulties in meeting required quality standards. Around a fifth of companies believe that the skills gaps they are experiencing are due to a lack of training. Over half of furniture employers with identified skills gaps are currently increasing their training activity to address these problems.

There are a number of challenges currently facing the industry  and one of these is that commercial and domestic consumers have constantly changing demands and preferences and they expect very high standards in the furnishing of their living and workplace environments. 

The Furniture industry relies heavily on the skills within its workforce to meet the highest of quality standards. It is vital to ensure the presence of appropriate training for the Furniture industry to help them prepare their employees for the future and to maintain and improve their productivity, competitiveness and sustainability. Only by doing this can the required high standards be achieved and maintained.

The industry also needs to improve efficiencies by tightening up processes to tackle the issue of rising energy costs and the need for more energy efficient machinery and processes. Legislative compliance on Health & Safety and Environmental Management also present challenges and place legal responsibilities upon the industry. Global competition has had an impact on Furniture manufacturing industries and the need for raising skill levels across the whole sector will be necessary to maintain and improve productivity and competitiveness. Low carbon and sustainability will also continue to be key drivers in terms of process and product improvement, renewable and recyclable materials and end-of-life procedures.

Recession will continue to have an impact on companies in the sector, as will competition, advancing technology, and changing working practices. These are all factors that companies in Wales have identified will have a significant impact on their businesses over the coming years.
It will be vital to ensure the presence of appropriate training for the industry to help them prepare their employees for the future and continue to improve productivity and competitiveness.

The Furniture industry is currently not attracting, in sufficient numbers, applicants from females, black and minority ethnic groups or those with a difficulty or disability. The Furniture industry recognises that it is not making the most of the pool of talent that is available – this is untapped talent which could help to meet their skills gaps and shortages, thereby contributing to increased productivity and competitiveness. Another key challenge for the Furniture industry is that the current workforce is ageing, with a particular shortfall of employees aged 16-24.

The Level 2 Foundation and Level 3 Apprenticeships for Furniture Industry Occupations have been designed to help fill skills gaps and shortages which are caused by an ageing workforce, by attracting younger people into the industry and providing them with the skills, knowledge and experience which employers are seeking to recruit and retain. In addition, the framework provides a progression route which will help to upskill the existing workforce to meet future economical, environmental and technological changes within the Furniture industry.

The Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors Manufacturing industries have a long tradition of skills development and Apprenticeships, from the traditional work of the craft guilds and livery companies, through to the modern integration of high technology and hand skills in furniture production.

This Apprenticeship framework provides a suitable structure that will ensure that training and assessment is carried out systematically and meets with the requirements of both the employer and the Apprentice. It may also, where appropriate, provide positive progression from a Foundation Level 2 Apprenticeship to a Level 3 Apprenticeship or to higher-level work within the industry.

The component parts of this framework will help meet the current and future needs of the industry: essentially a sound understanding of the complexities of manufacturing processes, underpinned by the appropriate skills, competencies and principles.

Apprenticeships in the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors Manufacturing Industry provide and nurture an environment in which individuals are able to develop a host of skills and personal attributes – all of which will contribute to the success of the industry and to the wider UK economy.

This Apprenticeship framework can help offer solutions to the current and future economical, environmental and technological challenges highlighted above and will help to create stability in the demography of the industry. Apprenticeships will help fill the current skills gaps and shortages and provide a sound preparation to help fill more senior positions in the near future.

The proposed framework offers not just young people, but also older workers the opportunity to upskill and undertake continual professional development as they progress in their careers. Training alone will not deliver the learning required by the current workforce and timely succession planning, for workforce development and replacement, is necessary. Apprenticeships will form a vital component of any succession planning action plan.

The training and assessment described by this Apprenticeship framework are acknowledged as a mechanism to help provide a workforce that is able to take forward innovation and change and to help industries to drive business performance improvements to increase national and global competitiveness.

For more information about the Furniture Industry, please visit . This report outlines information on careers available, new emerging jobs, transferability of skills career paths and opportunities for progression. There is information on pay scales, how to enter the industry and what qualifications are available. The report also shows trends in the industry, where skills gaps lie, what influences the recession has had and the future of the industry in terms of a green agenda and job requirements.

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Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors - Non Statutory (Wales)
(PDF document 8.63 MB)