Whitemeadow Furniture has been working to address the skills gap in the upholstery industry over the last two years, and launched its new online Careers Hub this week.

The Careers Hub aims to educate and attract young people and those wanting a career change into the industry, and to give an insight into the various roles available within the upholstery trade (both production and head-office based), providing tips for starting careers as well as behind-the-scenes insight into the roles and people at Whitemeadow.

Whitemeadow supports several initiatives, both industry-wide and as an employer, to encourage more people to enter the upholstery industry. From sponsoring design prizes in local schools to offering year-long placements to university product design students, Whitemeadow says it is committed to developing talent at all ages, and will partner with various organisations to promote the Careers Hub – for the month of May, it is partnering with a local career advice service and digital magazine that aims to inform, inspire, and support young people in making decisions about what to do when they leave school.

The hub will also evolve to include functionality such as being able to ask specific questions directly to relevant members of the team.

MD Ian Oscroft comments: “We’ve got a great team here that we are extremely proud of. We employ over 650 people at present but are still needing a range of people to fill various roles, especially upholsterers and sewing machinists. This has been an exceptionally challenging 12-month period, but it has encouraged us to focus our attention on ensuring that we are employing and retaining high-quality members of staff who are proud to work for the company and who are passionate about what they do.

"The Careers Hub is a further demonstration of our commitment to not only fill the skills gap in our industry but to ensure that we have a workforce that believes in our vision and values so that we can continue to be a leading supplier to our many valued customers.”

Whitemeadow launched its Sewing School in 2019 and has now successfully trained 18 full-time sewing machinists, who now all work across the company's production sites. It is a rolling programme, entering its fourth phase of apprentices, and Whitemeadow is now looking for the next set of recruits.

Whitemeadow will also launch its first Upholstery School later in 2021. Both schools will be based at the company's new Langham Park site in South Normanton, Derbyshire. Those who complete either course leave with a Modern Upholsterer Level 2 qualification and the offer of a full-time permanent role with the company.