FIS is committed to helping qualify relevant occupations within the  finishes and interiors sector workforce to a minimum of NVQ level 2. This sector-funding training initiative, developed with help from CITB, is providing money for a number of opportunities, one of which is on-site skills training. And the announcement in January that FIS had secured additional funding was very welcome news.

This funding has been secured with the intention to drive change within the sector. FIS will provide this funding through focused pilot projects that aim to address the skills shortage. On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) will be the vehicle used to help upskill the workforce. This type of training is designed for experienced  operatives who need to get a CSCS Blue Skilled Worker Card but who have no formal qualifications and don’t want to be away from the job. By taking part and working hard to prepare for the assessment process, candidates can gain Interior  Systems NVQ level 2 in the following occupations: interiors, drylining and relocatable partitioning.

Typically, operatives will require two or three site visits over a  six-month period in order to prove competence. Qualified assessors from accredited training providers will make contact with workers, plan ahead for assessments and simplify the administration. Everything happens on-site, and the assessors aim to fully prepare candidates for assessment right through to supporting them with their CSCS card application.

The funding being used to  support this drive for change  within the sector comes under CITB’s Flexible Funding Initiative, designed for construction skills and training projects lasting up to  18 months. The CITB funding, which FIS members will need to claim directly from CITB, is ‘topped up’ by FIS, enabling members to  benefit from fully funded training.

FIS has already proved that engaging with those defined as ‘hard-to-reach’ by the CITB is achievable through the project last year, but now the focused pilots will be looking at how to engage new entrants into the sector in different ways. For example, on-site training for an experienced construction operative who’s relatively new to the specific requirements of the finishes and interiors sector.

Mark Harris, director of interior fit-out company CIM, is just one FIS member who has already benefited from this funded training. “During a recent post-tender interview with a main contractor and architect, the disclosure of the fact that we had recently put 25 ceiling fixers through their NVQ level 2 was extremely well received,” commented Mr Harris. “FIS introduced us to the NVQ  Training Centre. Their committed  attitude to training made everything straightforward and the training itself was a big step towards our aspirations of a 100 per cent  trained workforce.”


Jeremy Clayton