Woodworking and Shopfitting Centres of Excellence reshaping training infrastructure

4 August 2017

The British Woodworking Federation and National Association of Shopfitters have completed the first-round auditing of their Centres of Excellence and the prognosis is good.

Robert Hudson of the National Association of Shopfitters announced today “We are delighted to announce today that all of our Centres have passed with flying colours and we are now ready to get cracking with phase two of the project, the integration of new qualifications, developing short courses and looking for other colleges to join the network, ensuring national coverage”.

“This is really great news, but more than the headline, this is about us readdressing and rebuilding our relationships with the Further Education Sector.  With more and more companies reporting that the training infrastructure is not delivering the quality people that they need, the strategic significance of this project cannot be underestimated.  More so it is encouraging that the project is attracting a lot of interest, not just from within the woodworking sector, we know other industries are now looking at this model”, reported Tony Batchelor the new Training Manager at the British Woodworking Federation.  

“The Industrial Strategy and various reports on the training infrastructure are identifying the need for change and the new training landscape starts to open the door to greater flexibility.  For these changes to deliver the improvements we need industry and training providers are working together – not operating in silos.  We have to a more modular agile training environment and working with these colleges is helping us to understand how we can make this work”.

Research conducted as part of the first year of this project mapping demand with supply has identified:

- More than a fifth (22%) of surveyed employers feel that the quality of existing apprenticeship provision is poor

- College provision for architectural joinery is found to be difficult to access, shopfitting and wood machining provision is also relatively sparse, with a complete absence of provision for these two specialisms in Scotland and Wales

- Employers who need these skills face greater difficulties sourcing and training up new recruits, with less choice available, and face higher travel costs for apprentices to attend the nearest college

- More needs to be done to invest in high quality provision and to better improve the potential outcomes for individual apprentices and employers alike.

Speaking on behalf of the Centres of Excellence, Wyn Prichard of Neath Port Talbot Group of Colleges said “We are delighted to be part of this project and to work with the team at the BWF who are not just paying lip-service to working with colleges, but rolling up their sleeves and actively working with us to help develop our offering to the sector.  It is great to be plugged into the sector in this way and learning more about the membership and their challenges and how we can help.  We are particularly excited about the short courses that we will be announcing soon that build on the core qualifications to develop valuable upskilling opportunities.”

Press Release Ends


Notes for the Editor

About our Centres of Excellence

The network is a pilot project run collaboratively by the National Association of Shopfitters (NAS) and British Woodworking Federation (BWF) and supported by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).  Collectively BWF and NAS represent more than 1,000 companies from the woodworking and shopfitting Sector.  Colleges and training providers joining the Network are audited to ensure the training they provide is of the high standard industry demands to train its workforce.  There are continuous feedback loops to ensure they remain at the highest of standards.

- Building Crafts College

- Didac Limited

- Leeds College of Building

- Neath Port Talbot College Group

We ask all our Centres of Excellence to work to the latest government-approved Apprenticeship Standards and provide a flexibility in the curriculum so that apprentices and students receive both the benchmark skills needed for their roles, as well as specific and specialist skills that are unique to each company. 

The Centre of Excellence Standard

All Centres of Excellence must undergo an audit by the BWF to be accredited. They are assessed in the following areas:

- Good or Excellent reports from Ofsted, Skills Funding Agency and Awarding Organisations (or devolved equivalents)

- Providing impartial advice to employers about the course their apprentice(s) should undertake

- Flexibility in the curriculum: giving the baseline training as required by the apprenticeship frameworks/standards, but allowing employers to choose optional and additional areas of learning

- Excellence in Health & Safety for their learners and their staff

- Continuous learning and improvement for the teaching staff to ensure they teach the most up-to-date skills and knowledge to learners

- Continuous monitoring, evaluation and feedback of the quality of the teaching and the satisfaction levels of employers and apprentices.

Each centre is visited by one of the BWF’s auditors and assessed in the above areas. Regular monitoring to uphold these standards.


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