(Source: Kitchens & Bathrooms News, Hamerville Media Group Ltd.)
I was saddened to hear that the Foundation Degree in Kitchen Design course at Buckinghamshire New University had ended as I thought it was a good idea, and one that I would have supported.
I think having a formal qualification in kitchen design can only be a good thing; my senior designer has an honours degree in interior architecture and he has the capability to design kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms in the home too.
There is no doubt that designing a kitchen is a complicated process and it requires a lot of skill and learning.
However, it is clear by the number of talented designers that are already in our industry that workplace training can also result in the ability to design beautiful kitchens, together with the many other skills required to ensure plumbing and services are correctly incorporated within the layout.
For my business, design is only part of the offer. We make all our furniture on-site at my cabinet workshop in Buckinghamshire.
There is a definite skills shortage of younger people wanting to learn woodworking and cabinetmaking, which is why I have joined forces with Rycotewood in Oxfordshire, the college where I was formally trained as a cabinetmaker.
They have developed a Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer Apprenticeship course; a fully developed programme, specifically designed for bespoke furniture manufacturers.
This includes intensive one-week training blocks at the college, where the apprentice engages in carefully planned skills development projects, the rest of the time is spent on professional training at Simon Taylor Furniture.
Having taken on one apprentice, I will be taking on another at the start of the next academic year.
Maybe the industry should work with colleges to develop apprenticeships in kitchen design and manufacturing?
Manufacturers, retailers and educational establishments could work together to promote courses to teenagers that may not wish to take a university degree, but would love the idea of becoming a designer in the knowledge that they will have a qualification and, importantly, a job at the end of it.