What do you think? From emerging trends to the latest business principles, Furniture News is setting out to gauge the trade’s feelings on a variety of industry-specific topics. Today, we’re asking: "What's your company's approach to staff training?"

Steve Adams (MattressOnline): Training is vital to any growing business, and I’m an advocate of pushing my team’s boundaries. We encourage as many of our staff as possible to complete the NBF courses and undertake job-specific training. Currently, we have staff training around identifying mental health challenges and we are supporting an AAT qualification for one of our accountants. Training is money well spent

Emma Leeke (Leekes): Knowledgeable, helpful and experienced teams are essential in differentiating independent retailers from online players and the multiples, so this is high on our priorities

Jan Turner (AKA PR): We’re definitely in favour of apprenticeships! One of our key members of staff joined us as an apprentice nearly five years ago and is now a highly respected and vital member of the team

Dids Macdonald (ACID, The Furniture Makers’ Company): Our approach is that investment in training is the best investment a company can ever make. To have a team who are eager to upskill and develop is one of the best conversations an employer can have with his or her staff. Nurturing talent is such a positive work culture. Apprenticeships are not relevant to ACID, but are just one of the most important aspects of our sector. Unless we engage politicians/civil servants to make the levy system more accessible, in five, 10, or 20 years’ time, we will have a crisis on our hands. The time to act is now. Apprenticeships will deliver transferable skills for life – university degrees can leave a young person with a significant debt, and not necessarily the skills which can last for life and provide job certainty

Mike Murray (Land of Beds): Land of Beds has created a bespoke in-house training and development package which we put all our staff through, in addition to creating protected time for team members to attend training days with our suppliers and complete courses through the NBF’s training academy. We often discuss internally whether we are a furniture retailer that uses tech or a tech company selling furniture! I would love to see us come together as an industry to encourage business, IT and web development graduates to enter our sector. It would be amazing to help graduates recognise the enormous potential that exists to make ground-breaking technological advancements and move the furniture industry forward as a whole. A great starting point could be a standalone graduate scheme or individual work placements – either way, we need to act before top talent is lost to other sectors such as banking!

Rob Scarlett (Scarlett Design): Everyone work directly with me face to face, so they learn a lot

Dr Julie Dix (Silentnight): Developing local young talent through our award-winning apprenticeship scheme on programmes up to degree level, which in turn supports internal development, progression and promotion, providing opportunities for our people to be the best that they can be

Joe Wykes (Sleepeezee): In terms of apprenticeships, two of our finance team are going through a Level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship (equivalent to a master’s degree) that will give them the ACCA qualification. It’s funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, and the learning provider is based in Maidstone, where the classes will be held. The apprenticeship requires 20% of your hours to be spent learning, so along with classes there’s also shadowing, learning new skills and mentoring

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