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KBB NTG (National Training Group) sets the record straight

The KBB NTG (National Training Group) has been under fire recently by some online forums so Graham Ball, the organsiation's acting chairman, wants to set the record straight....

There appears to be a lack of knowledge amongst some blogtwitbookers about the role of the NTG in today's kbb markets, so let me give them some relevant facts.

The NTG was formed in 2004 with the objective of becoming the conduit for relevant training opportunities for people in the kbb sectors.

Before that there was simply nothing specifically for our sector, as all other national training opportunities were focussed on the wider (and larger) 'construction' sector - as opposed to our mission which relates specifically to 'rooms' rather than buildings.

Setting up from basically nothing, funding was a key issue and there was much bad feeling about the statutory CITB levy and grant system which aimed its cash at the kbb market, despite many participants being levied on their payroll to fund training activities. So you can understand the frustration of many of us in the industry, but also see the opportunity for a body to focus specifically on kbb training.

Now getting accreditation, developing NVQ's, developing a framework for an apprenticeship programme - even doing anything like this, is a minefield covered in red tape and's an obstacle course that puts many people off at the start, but we were committed to developing relevant training opportunities for the industry - despite these obstructions.

Also, you must bear in mind that we are not exactly flush with money, and had to develop our own income stream to enable us to continue. We had some generous supporters in the shape of the BSH Group, the KBSA Corporate members, industry partners and the BMA (Bathroom Manufacturers Association) which enabled us to obtain matched funding from Construction Skills - as we were able to convince them that this would be recognition that the kbb sector needed specific support, away from the construction sector.

Having started, we have been working tirelessly to develop relevant activities, and some of the courses run recently were:

  • Three day kitchen design courses
  • The BMA Bathroom Academy - This gives on-line training modules
  • Skills Academy Masterclasses - sponsored by Blum, Egger and Hettich
  • Sales & Customer Care courses
  • Building Regulations - how they affect the kbb sector
  • Many NTG accredited CPD learning sessions delivered through company in-house training
  • A kitchen installation apprenticeship scheme at level 2 NVQ - which produced 12 young apprentices (32 currently being trained and ongoing) in 2011 through the scheme run by Webs Training in Nottingham as well as other training providers in the North.

We are also trying to encourage more schools/colleges and universities to take the kbb markets as opportunities for employment, whether that be in sales, design, installation, project management etc - a mission that must continue.

We may have been hiding our light under a proverbial bushel in the past, but our mission for 2012 is to raise our profile, develop new courses (like The Living Kitchen Workshop, which we trialled in December with several KBSA retailers), focussing on the need now to include elements of interior design when planning a kitchen project, and then promoting these opportunities in our trade press and other relevant areas.

Members of the relevant trade associations (KBSA, BMA) receive discounts on course costs, and there are grants available also from Construction Skills which cover in-house as well as external training sessions undertaken.

As our markets have become driven by 'fashion' over the past decade, the industry is finally emerging as a vibrant, exciting, and rewarding employment opportunity for many young people - and is becoming a job that's worth consideration - rather than one that is viewed as old-fashioned and unexciting.

I hope you can share the vision we have, and are working towards delivering to the benefit of improving standards in our modern industry. So, the more people embrace these opportunities, the quicker we will succeed.

Graham Ball, acting chair, KBB National Training Group