In the UK alone, the furniture sector is a substantial industry. According to Government statistics over 8,000 companies contribute £11.1 billion to the country’s GDP, which equates to 2.2% of manufacturing output. Over a quarter of a million jobs are dependent on the success of the industry, with 107,000 in manufacturing. Consumer spending on furniture and furnishings equates to a whopping £16.2 billion per year.
Ensuring that the furniture industry continues to develop the most appropriate skills now and for the future, is essential for the long sustainability of this very important sector.
Over 80% of furniture companies state they have skills shortages in their businesses and of these, 60% of furniture employers feel that skills gaps and shortages constrains output and results in loss of business. A third of furniture manufacturers have trouble recruiting new entrants into craft and manufacturing roles. The combination of not being able to recruit new entrants – particularly young people into the sector, coupled with the wide range of skills deficits, is having a negative effect on most furniture businesses, with many employers stating that this results in limited capacity to meet current demands and restricts their potential for business growth.
Furthermore, 90% of employers cite that advanced manufacturing skills, the onslaught of Industry4.0 smart factory technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence leave their businesses woefully lacking the future skills needed and not just with new entrants, but with the current workforce too.