The Furniture Makers’ Company, the furnishing industry’s charity, is organising a one-day conference to inform the UK furnishing industry about the implications of the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy and wider educational issues affecting the sector. 

The ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference is taking place at Furniture Makers’ Hall, London on Thursday 18th May 2017. 

The Apprenticeship Levy comes into effect on 6th April 2017 and is part of the government’s commitment to creating three million apprenticeships in England by 2020. 

The levy requires all employers operating in the UK with an annual pay bill of more than £3m to spend 0.5% of the total to help fund apprenticeships. 

Chaired by Gary Baker, MD of CD UK, the Bridging the Gap conference will feature expert speakers from industry to demystify the levy and educate businesses as to how they can access the levy’s funding to develop and train their workforce by working with recognised training centres and colleges. 

Other sessions at the conference will focus on promoting the industry to young people, including what businesses can do to attract university graduates into employment within the furnishing sector. 

The event will also update industry on the development of the Level 3 Apprenticeship Standard – an initiative spearheaded by the Employer Trailblazer Group led by Senator International. 

The Bridging the Gap conference follows the 2014 Mind the Gap report and event, organised by the Company and the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), which identified that a skills shortage is developing within the furnishing industry. 

Charles Vernon, training and education chairman at The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “A lot of vital work has been performed by The Furniture Makers’ Company since the Mind the Gap report identified the concerning issue of a widening skills gap in our industry. The Company’s training and education initiatives today range from awarding Key Stage 4 students, through our School Design Prize, all the way to funding Masters’ students and developing young industry professionals. Despite this, the skills gap remains a pressing issue. 

“With the Apprenticeship Levy launching this April, it is imperative that companies don’t see it as just another tax, but embrace it as an opportunity to further the skills of new and existing employees. The Bridging the Gap conference will not only educate industry about the levy, but allow delegates to debate wider training and education issues within the sector and how we might address them.” 

Tickets to the Bridging the Gap conference will cost £45+VAT and are available to purchase from Eventbrite