The Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) is urgently appealing to UK furniture manufacturers to financially support vital work needed to renew the level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship Standard.

The current level 2 standard is the mainstay of apprenticeship training for the UK furnishing industry with around 1000 apprentices having been trained through the 10 pathways since its launch in 2016.  

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE), the controlling authority on apprenticeship standards, has said that the current Furniture Manufacturer standard must be reviewed before the end of 2019 as it does not meet its new guidelines.  

This means that the existing single standard with pathways must be replaced by separate standards for each specialist occupation if government funded skills training is to be maintained.

Based on demand for the existing apprenticeship standard, FIESTA is proposing to rationalise the current standard, phasing out five pathways and creating four new level 2 furniture standards that will meet the new criteria laid down by IFATE:

  1. Fitted Furniture Installer
  2. Furniture Manufacturer
  3. Modern Upholsterer
  4. Wood Machinist (incorporating Furniture CNC Specialist)

The approximate cost of creating the original standard was around £90,000, but the cost of deriving the four new standards is £5000 each.  

FIESTA is calling for manufacturers to contribute towards the cost to develop the standards. The organisation is asking for a minimum of £250 from a manufacturer but would like larger businesses to consider inputting greater amounts.

Gary Baker, chairman of FIESTA, says: “This represents a significant allocation of resource and FIESTA is asking for industry support to make sure that these new standards can be developed before the deadline at the end of 2019.

“The occupations of fitted furniture installers, cabinet makers, modern upholsterers and wood machinists will be impacted most without a replacement, because employers will no longer have access to funded apprenticeship training, which would inevitably increase the skills gap in the furniture sector.”

If manufacturers are able to support this initiative and want to get involved in the working groups, they should contact Jeremy Stein by calling 01494 896790 or by emailing