The Furniture Makers’ Company Young Professional Industry Experience 2015 came to a close at a presentation event held at One Moorgate Place last week.

Piloted by the Company in 2014, this year's project received great support and participation from the furnishing industry, particularly from main sponsor, The January Furniture Show, and leading industry companies such as Axminster Tools & Machinery, Blum, Burbidge, Cabinet Maker, CD UK, Crofts & Assinder, DFS, Ercol, FIRA, The Furniture Ombudsman, Halstock, Hypnos, KI, M&S, Panaz and UBM.

The project brought together some of the best and brightest young talent in the furnishing industry to take part in an intensive three-week programme, where companies opened their doors and gave them an insight into their businesses. The group had the chance to visit and understand all areas of the furniture industry supply chain, learning about raw materials and components, the complexity of manufacturing, buying criteria, pricing, marketing and merchandising, through to consumer law, after sales and customer service.

This is a unique opportunity that only The Furniture Makers’ Company, through its membership, is able to create and provide.

The group made a joint presentation yesterday, outlining the key concepts they learned from the programme and how their ideas could be applied to their respective companies, which have nominated and sponsored them to take part in the course.

They identified three key challenges for the industry – to bring young people into the industry and keep skills alive, to balance the use of technology with hands-on skills and craftsmanship, and to promote the strength and quality of British manufacturing.

The January Furniture Show director Stephen Richards says: “This programme has been designed for aspiring young professionals and graduates who are progressing well through early employment – and we are delighted to play our part in helping them on their way.”

David Dewing, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, says: “The Young Professionals Industry Experience represents the pinnacle of our education programme. It is thanks to our network of contacts that we are able to provide this unique and intensive programme during which the candidates are tasked with considering the challenges which will be faced by the industry in the future. We hope that our Young Professionals will help to tackle these challenges and become future leaders of our industry.”

The seven young professionals are:

- Sam Barnes who works for DFS Trading Ltd as a service manager apprentice with a service manager as part of a two-year apprenticeship programme. He attends training courses at the DFS training centre and block release training at Hull College. At the end of his programme he will gain a Level 2 diploma in Furniture, Soft Furnishings and Interiors.

- Andrew Blair who works for Andrew Muirhead & Son Ltd as a leather technologist. Andrew has a Higher National Certificate in Business, City of Glasgow College, and a Leathersellers Certificate in Leather Science, University of Northampton. He joined Muirhead & Son in 2000.

- Mark Burden who works for DFS Trading Ltd as a live chat manager designate. Mark has a BSc (Hons) in Sport Management from Northumbria University and he joined DFS two years ago.

- Jack Chivers who works for Ercol Ltd as an assistant technical designer. He has City and Guilds qualifications in Introduction to Welding Level 1, Northampton College, and Making and Installing Handcrafted Furniture Levels 1-3, Moulton College, plus a degree in Furniture: Design and Craft, Bucks New University. Jack joined Ercol just over a year ago.

- Jose Formoso who works for Crofts & Assinder Ltd as a UK & European account manager. Jose has a degree in Law Studies, Havana University, and an NVQ Level 3: International Relationships, Instituto del Comercio Exterior. Jose joined Crofts & Assinder 18 months ago.

- Eleanor (Ellie) Mason who works for Howden Joinery Group Ltd as a graduate designer. Ellie has a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and a BA (Hons) in Product and Furniture Design, De Montfort University. Ellie joined Howden in September 2014.

- Rebecca Ransom who works for Willis & Gambier Ltd as a designer. Rebecca has a BA (Hons) in Furniture and Product Design from Nottingham Trent University. Rebecca joined Willis & Gambier a year ago.