Closing the Gap conference to showcase solution to skills gap

The Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) is organising a conference next month to launch Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus (Skills Plus) – a service that will help close the industry’s skills gap.

Since the Bridging the Gap conference in 2017, FIESTA has been working towards a solution that will enable furniture and interiors businesses of all sizes to easily train and recruit employees for all job functions.

FIESTA will be presenting this solution, Skills Plus, to industry on Friday 26 April 2019 (10.30am 2.00pm) at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London.

Skills Plus offers businesses a specialist apprentice recruitment service, Apprentice Training Agency (ATA) and Levy Management Company. Through Skills Plus, micro and SME non-levy paying employers will be able to access a much wider selection of funded skills training, while large employers can outsource the apprenticeship management to obtain best value for money and real time monitoring from their apprentice levy digital accounts.

The conference will include an overview of the training and education landscape since the release of the Mind the Gap Report in 2015, which identified a skills gap was emerging. In addition to learning more about Skills Plus, delegates will hear from companies from industry who have introduced successful apprenticeship programmes.

At the end of the conference, delegates will be able to have confidential 121s with the Skills Plus team to discuss their training requirements.

Managers with responsibility for recruitment and skills development within furniture and furnishing companies as well as existing training providers and educational institutions are strongly encouraged to attend the conference.

Gary Baker, managing director of CD (UK) Ltd and chairman of FIESTA said: “We are delighted to be working with the Apprentice Management Group to provide Skills Plus as a service, and look forward to showing this solution to the industry. If you have an ageing work force, or find it challenging to recruit and retain new or existing workers, this conference is a must attend event.

“Companies in the furniture and interiors industry are coming up against increased competition from other sectors to attract the best school leavers and graduates, which along with an ageing workforce is creating a perfect storm. Researching training providers that have funding for your training needs and understanding how to access funding all takes time. The Skills Plus solution will handle all of this and offer companies advice and guidance on the best training that is available to the sector.”

John Henry, director at the Apprenticeship Management Group, said: “Skills Plus will enable employers in the sector to fill their skills gaps and look to establish training and progression plans both now and well into the future. Young people entering the furniture and interiors sector and existing employees wishing to up-skill are looking for learning opportunities and career progression, which is precisely what Skills Plus will help them achieve. I am confident that they will be delighted at the outcomes the Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus team will achieve on their behalf.”

Admission to the conference costs £13.19 and this includes refreshments and lunch. To book your place:

If you would like to book a meeting with a Skills Plus representative, email

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