Responding to the skills gap and demand for trade, retailer announces apprenticeship programme to help build pipeline of small UK businesses
Home improvement retailer Wickes, has officially launched its first Installation apprenticeship scheme following a successful pilot, supporting trade and investing in the local job market.
The Installation apprenticeship taps into life and trade skills, together with mentoring support. Partnering with its Approved Installer Network for kitchens, small trade businesses have voluntarily opened up their operation to an apprentice.
There are 48 apprenticeship places available with funded salaries from Wickes, the programme will be split into cohorts of eight, the first of which goes live on 25th January 2021; applications remain open for further groups that will launch throughout 2021. In addition to the creation of 48 apprentices, Wickes will recruit for new team leaders’ roles to manage each cohort’s learning and development.
New careers in the trade sector
With a recent rise in unemployment, together with people taking stock of how they want to develop their careers, this new programme is not just directed at young adults but provides an opportunity for those looking to explore the trade sector. With recent research from Wickes identifying that 77% of tradespeople have more or the same amount of work as they did before COVID, it is clear the job pipeline and sector remains healthy.
Created to invest in the industry, supporting an ageing trade population and changes to EU legislation that may impact availability of tradespeople; the Installation programme is a clear indication of the retailer’s commitment to the future, and the development and nurture of local talent.
Lessons learnt with Wickes
Apprentices will embark on an 18-month programme; 80% of time spent will be on site with their installer, with 20% in formal training. The formal training spans across seven block weeks with Nottingham based WEBS Training Ltd, focusing on the technical aspects of fitting a kitchen, behaviour, customer services and setting up your own business. On top of this Wickes will work with its suppliers and industry regulators to provide in-depth product knowledge in relation to all aspects that make up a kitchen, together with the importance of waste disposal as a responsible tradesperson.
The longer term view of the programme is to have provided tools for the apprentice to look to set up their own business within fitted furniture (carpentry). Whilst understanding how it connects to other trades within the construction in order to provide a well-rounded and compelling local installation proposition for customers.
Tony Brown, Installations Director, at Wickes, said: “We’re giving back and supporting the industry we know well through our Approved Installer Network. Installation of kitchens is a very skilled job and we want to invest in people to help close any skills gap. There are many great careers to be had in this industry and opportunities for people in a sector that can be flexible around them or give them the opportunity to create a small business. I am really proud that we’re able to offer such a unique programme like this, we know the industry needs more skilled tradespeople and we hope this is just the beginning of a very successful and long running programme.”
Michael Hales, Installation Apprentice (Pilot Cohort), at Wickes commented: “I’m currently halfway through the scheme, and I can say that this apprenticeship is truly one of a kind. It’s allowed me to gain new skills and confidence for my future career. I feel privileged to be part of this scheme, it has given me an opportunity of a lifetime to be hands on. Everything from the course, including the onsite WEBS training centre is outstanding, I had never heard of an apprenticeship like this before, even my friends are jealous of what I am doing and how supported I am through the programme. I feel excited to see what the future brings as I can see myself with my own van, tools and apprentice – carrying on kitchen fitting for the rest of my career. I really appreciate the opportunity that’s been given to me by Wickes.”
For more information on the Wickes
Apprenticeship Scheme and for applications forms, visit https://www.wickescareers.co.uk/Apprenticeships.
 Wickes Internal Research, Mood of the Nation, October 2020. XXX Trade reciptiants