As the trade association that represents specialists in all aspects of the interior fit-out and finishes sector, FIS works to develop skills, drive technical competence and support its community. Read about FIS developments and initiatives from the past 12 months.


Helen Yeulet,  skills delivery director

FIS has continued to utilise funding from CITB to assist in  delivering a difference to the membership. This year has seen the delivery of a further 200 NVQ level 2s through additional OSAT funding from CITB, as well as funding  support for other sector training. A pilot with Tyne Metropolitan  College and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to bring 30 new entrants into the sector through a new training programme  partnership is also being developed.

In 2016, FIS also introduced CourseSight, which brings together details of courses specific to the finishes and interiors sector, making accessing and booking training quick and easy. In addition, information from  CourseSight is passed to SkillSight so that newly achieved qualifications are automatically added to individuals’ CSCS cards. Take a look at

Going forward, the FIS board has approved a new skills strategy and  employed a project team to drive the changes required (see page 25).  The skills delivery team will focus on five key measures: 1,500 new entrants to the sector per annum; a fully carded workforce by 2020; increase to 50 per cent of grant return on levy from 35 per cent; revenue from training to become a sustainable model; and FIS to become  recognised industry leaders in skills.

“One of the biggest concerns in the  construction industry and our sector  particularly is the urgent need to secure a pipeline of skilled operatives for the future. With the uncertainties of Brexit and the effect it might have on the industry’s dependence on foreign labour, it has never been more  vital that FIS supports its members in  securing new apprentices for our industry.”

Jim Nania, chairman, Stortford Interiors (UK) Ltd



Sharon Mason, business development manager

Adding value to our membership offering is always at the  forefront of what we do and to this end we introduced new  events, benefits, support and promotional opportunities in 2016.  The most significant of these was the launch of our new website.

The FIS website is packed with information and advice for those working in the finishes and interiors sector, with the three distinct hubs –  Knowledge, Membership and Skills – making it easier for users to benefit from a host of sector-specific content.

The Scottish Awards were introduced to demonstrate the quality of work and the range of projects that are carried out in Scotland. This successful event will now be part of the FIS calendar moving forward and entry to this year’s awards closes on 28 February.

At our Conference in October we launched a new free legal service in partnership with construction lawyers Bond Dickinson. FIS members can ring the helpline to receive up to 60 minutes’ free advice per query from our dedicated lawyer, Kara Price. What makes this service especially valuable is that Kara will review documentation on members’ behalf and comment accordingly.

With the appointment of Nicky Smith as FIS content and digital strategy manager in June, we are beginning to actively use the new website and social media to share and promote members’ news. Live tweeting from our events allows us to showcase our industry, gain recognition and engage in conversations. The promotion of our magazines, SpecFinish and FIS Focus, online via the publishing platform Issuu puts our members’ news and  products in front of a larger audience.

Our next major event is the President’s Lunch on 7 February 2017 at Plaisterers’ Hall – we look forward to seeing you there.

“We are delighted with the Scottish Awards as they allow us to demonstrate our high  standards of workmanship to the sector. In turn, the event provides an opportunity for us to entertain clients and architects and for them to better understand the value of selecting an FIS member for their projects.”

Steve Neilson, managing director, Worksmart Interiors Ltd


Joe Cilia, technical manager

In 2016, FIS took a new direction of engagement, delivering key  projects and instigating several new ones to ensure that the association  is continually developing standards and tools to allow members to  remain competitive.

Members are now encouraged to attend one of the special interest forums that FIS has set up where specific areas of interest relating to  specialist sectors can be raised and discussed.

The FIS forums now include SFS, BIM and digital construction,  ceilings, drylining, heritage plastering, partitioning and operable walls. These forums are already addressing issues of skills, standards, best  practice and promotion of the sectors across construction.

Working closely with BSI, RICS and RIBA’s NBS, and the FIS  special interest forums, small working groups have been  formed to address issues where BSI standards require updating.  This is a long process; however, the institutions are working closely with the sector to ensure that these revisions allow for more accessible and usable documents that companies can use to demonstrate they are meeting standards, and reducing confusion at all stages of a project.

We also launched the Fire Performance Labelling Scheme in 2016 which aims to highlight the importance of maintaining integrity of a fire-rated partition where pipes and cables are installed after the wall has been constructed. The scheme, which has been produced in partnership with the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), has the backing of the country’s leading distributors of fire-rated drylining materials to ensure its wide use.


“The glazed partitioning sector has long needed a unified approach to best practice and  compliance with relevant standards and  legislation. FIS is providing a valuable lead in creating the forum for debate and promoting the industry’s agenda within BSI and other  bodies to enable a common understanding of our obligations to our customers.”

Peter Long, technical manager, Optima Products Ltd



Robert Barker,  membership manager

Health and safety is the  responsibility of us all.  As we spend a lot of our  life at work we need to  know that our working  environment is a safe place  to be, not only in terms of  minimising the possibility  of accidents but also in the long term by ensuring our  occupational health is considered as well.

FIS is working closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to produce solutions that will greatly improve the occupational health of  operatives working in the finishes and interiors sector and give them a longer working life that is not cut short by avoidable injuries. One of the big issues FIS and HSE are working on is reducing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) for which there is a high prevalence in the construction industry.

The working group, which is jointly chaired by Land Securities and the HSE and was formed last year comprising members, construction  professionals and manufacturers, is making headway towards reducing injuries caused by the movement and fixing of plasterboard. The group is looking at the possible advantages of reducing the board width to make boards lighter and easier to handle, both manually and mechanically with the aid of different types of moving and lifting aids.

In addition, the FIS Health and Safety forum holds regular briefings with HSE to keep our members informed of up and coming campaigns, changes in legislation and how CDM is working in our sector. If you would like to contribute, please email

Lastly, please make use of our Health and Safety helpline, which can be  accessed via our website (, keep a look out for health and safety articles in SpecFinish magazine, and FIS advice and alerts in our regular e-bulletins.

“The FIS continues to play a vital role in giving us a voice and dialogue with organisations, such as the HSE, that is immeasurably stronger together rather than individually. It provides our sector not only with the latest information but also gives us the heads-up on up and coming initiatives and possible future  legislation that may have an impact on or alter current safe working practices.”

Gavin Palmer, health, safety and environmental manager, Astins Ltd


David Frise, chief executive

Two important projects were delivered in 2016 designed to address the sector’s move into digital construction. Developed by 3Drepo, in  partnership with FIS and  Balfour Beatty, is the multi-award-winning solution transforming the way organisations communicate and collaborate, across construction projects. For the first time, the unique engine enables all  parties to share 3D models, collaborating and communicating without the need for diverse, often complex and expensive, proprietary  licences. Visit

Our FIS BIM process training, which is based on our BIM Toolbox, has been tailored for specialist fit-out and finishes contractors to allow them to demonstrate the company’s BIM capability and prequalify by  completing core PQQ requirements with evidence. Take a look at


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