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Commercial Flooring News

Wood Apprentices Going Great Guns

Sid Bourne on Floorskills training advances

OUR wood flooring apprenticeship courses at the Floorskills have been going now for nearly three years. Many apprentices from our first and second year groups are now qualified, all to an amazingly high standard.
What’s so encouraging is to think that our apprenticeship courses have enrolled young people with no experience at all on how to install wood floors. With expert tuition, they have reached the stage of being able to complete an installation to a very high standard and are also capable of advanced workmanship.
Another development, also very exciting, is that the British Wood Flooring Association (BWFA) has linked up with Floorskills, which is Europe’s largest training centre.
Together we are expanding by taking on the adjacent unit which will add 9,000sq ft to our already impressive training facility, based centrally in Solihull, West Midlands. That will enable us to go from strength to strength during the coming years.
You have already noticed the photographs on this page. They show the brilliant standard achieved by some of the young people at our centre who had never installed wood floors until the apprenticeship.
The work was done by those who were nearing the end of their apprenticeships and were learning to work as a team in preparation for employment in the commercial sector. Part of their course is to be able to estimate and produce scale drawings of the floor area. They learn to create a design, assemble all the components, undertaking the installation, and completing the job by sanding a finishing. This whole process is done in individual bays at our advanced training centre.
We also have experienced people who have been installing wood floor for many years coming to us as apprentices. They tell us they are blown away with what they achieve on our apprenticeship course. They admit that previously they would never have even contemplated attempting to install borders and logos to the correct method that we teach and demonstrate.
In fact, a lot of the younger lads doing our apprenticeship tell us they are now teaching their bosses the right way to do it. I don’t think this goes down well with some bosses, but we do get the occasional phone call from a boss wanting to book a course for themselves, which is great.
We are very proud of the standard our apprentices at the BWFA and Floorskills are achieving.
Some are not confident when they start, but absolutely shine after a short period of time when they realise we are not there to judge, but to train them to the highest achievable level. Any mistakes are not punished; they are used to show how and what went wrong. We work until they get it perfect with no pressure.
We even have apprentices who I will be training and coaching over the coming years to become BWFA trainers, such is their thirst for knowledge, which is great.
Currently, we need more companies to send installers on the BWFA apprenticeship regardless of age or experience. I was always a bit nervous that older guys who fit wood floors would be anti-apprentice, but I have found that once they see they are learning a great deal and a far lot more than they ever knew, they settle down and become great apprentices.
The BWFA calls on companies out there to support apprenticeships, including manufacturers. Otherwise where are the next installers going to come from? Many companies tell me they struggle to find installers, especially good ones.
So I don’t understand the mentality of these companies who refuse to have their installers trained on an apprenticeship course.
I salute all those companies who do send installers on the apprenticeship courses. The initial expense will be more than covered by the valuable returns on having first class professional fitters.
Some companies also hesitate about investing in training because they are afraid that one day the skilled qualified installer they have had trained will go his/her own way.

On the contrary, I know of many apprentices we have trained who, while setting up on their own, are still loyal to the company who first employed them and supported their training. And both are happy with these arrangements. So don’t use this as an excuse.
There also employers who are worried that their apprentices being trained by us will be lost to them for long periods of time. But this is not the case. It works out at only a few days over two years, broken up into modules that are pre-arranged. So it can’t be seen as an inconvenience.
Furthermore, we can help to get outside funding for the majority of apprentices. So that is no excuse. Plus, we will guarantee to train them to a standard that will make you a very happy and proud employer if quality is what you are after. We don’t teach our people so-called short cuts in installing because simply there are no short cuts! Short cuts lead to disaster and floor failures!
So please retailers, contractors, and manufacturers, help the BWFA put the skill back into wood flooring, and encourage more apprentices and young installers to come to us for training.
Finally, you may not be aware that Floorskills also offers funding for apprenticeships in carpet and impervious flooring.
For further information on apprenticeships in wood, carpet and impervious flooring, contact Matt or Daniel at Floorskills on Office.

T: 01564 703900
www.floorskills.co.uk

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.