The Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance – FIESTA – of which Achieve+Partners is a strategic partner, is delighted to announce it is one of nine organisations representing employers across the manufacturing sector which are participating in a new partnership between industry and Government to grow the number of high-quality apprenticeships in the manufacturing sector.


Covid has created unprecedented challenges for the manufacturing sector, not least on employers’ plans for hiring apprentices and training the existing workforce. The Department for Education has started to build new partnerships between industry and government with the aim of challenging and addressing these barriers. AiM will strengthen this partnership through committed, skills-focused organisations working collaboratively.

On the 8th February, the Minister for Skills, Alex Burghart MP officially announced the launch of the new initiative, Apprenticeships in Manufacturing (AiM). He said:“The group has my full support in its vital agenda to grow the number of high-quality apprenticeships, the opportunities for young people, the number of manufacturing SMEs offering apprenticeships, and apprenticeships in new and Net Zero sectors.”

AiM is to be chaired by Anita Davenport-Brooks of the Lander Group, who said:“I am excited and honoured to be part of the AiM Group and look forward to working with the members to grow the number of high-quality apprenticeships in the manufacturing sector.  I believe that apprenticeships bring a valuable return on investment, not only financially but in every area of any business and I am passionate about the benefits they bring for individuals too. I have seen apprentices with differing abilities grow, develop and obtain substantive roles and there is common agreement that apprenticeships develop sustainable talent. I want to see AiM achieving on its objectives and growing more of this wonderful skilled talent for our sector.”

NBF Executive Director and memner of FIESTA Jessica Alexander added: “I’m pleased to see FIESTA being an integral part of this new partnership and have high hopes it will aid us in our aim to secure our industry for the future by developing a committed skilled workforce for the future. We all desperately need to raise awareness of the many opportunities and attractions of working in the furniture and interiors sector: it’s both creative and hands-on, with a proud tradition of craftsmanship, as well as innovative and modern, with exciting prospects as it moves towards a new era of sustainable principles.”

Aside from FIESTA, the other eight members of AiM are: Cogent Skills, Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA), Enginuity, Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Make UK, National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD), UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) and the UK Metals Council (UKMC)

The group has close links with the National Manufacturing Skills Taskforce and is supported by the Department for Education, BEIS, DEFRA, DWP and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Employers who are considering starting or expanding apprenticeships for their business, can find out more at

The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET) has gained approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to develop a new degree apprenticeship. Once complete, this will be supported by the Government’s apprenticeship scheme and will be available for universities to offer across England.

Employers, with the support of TKET, the KBSA and training professionals, have been working hard to write the content of this new apprenticeship and now need a wider perspective. To make sure that they meet the needs of the widest cross-section of organisations, they need the industry’s help.

The apprenticeship is aimed at designers who work in a range of environments from bespoke design retail showrooms or studios to divisions of large national retailers, client’s homes and office environments. This includes bespoke design, creative skills and related services for sophisticated kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, home offices, boats and connected living spaces, these can be multi-generational and accessible orientated designs. Work can also involve one-off commercial developments such as bespoke furniture within hotels, bars, offices, leisure, education, communal spaces and health centre projects.

You can download a copy of the proposed standard here.

If you are an employer, training provider, assessment organisation or potential apprentice, we encourage you to complete this survey before 31st October 2022. It only takes 10 minutes and it gives you the chance to influence the content of these future apprenticeships.


A group of seven Whitemeadow Apprentices have just completed their Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer – Modern Upholsterer Apprenticeship EPA with Achieve+Partners. Three of the apprentices achieved full marks in their observations and five of the apprentices achieved an overall Distinction. We hope they are very proud of what they have achieved. The apprenticeships were delivered with Webs Training.

Mandy Harper, Apprenticeship Programme Manager at Whitemeadow said “Some of the highest grades ever to be achieved by these fantastic lot! Feeling super proud of Callum Britton, Tammy Burton, Elizabeth Buxton, Georgina Lappage, Stacey Varley, Tara Graney and Kimberley Carter. Top marks once again as Phase 3 apprentices complete their Modern Upholsterer Apprenticeship. All passed with results to be proud of! 15 months of hard work, determination, commitment and discipline has paid off!”

Huge Congratulations to Sean at Amtrim who achieved a Distinction in his Furniture Manufacturer – Modern Upholsterer apprenticeship with Achieve+Partners and North Lancs Training Group

We wish you every success in the future.

Alex Tu

Crafting his future  

Alex Tu is a furniture manufacturing apprentice at Benchmark Furniture in Kintbury, Berkshire. 

What makes Alex’s apprenticeship so unique is that on completing his qualification, he will gain both a Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeship in furniture making. 

His apprenticeship combines a full-time role with block-release training at renowned centre of excellence, Rycotewood Furniture Centre, based at the City of Oxford College’s city centre campus. 

“I enjoy making stuff,” Alex said. “I started enjoying woodwork during my GCSEs because I did a BTEC in construction. Then I went onto A Levels, including product design. I was also able to do GCSE Resistant Materials at the same time.  

“I didn’t want to go to university after school as I didn’t like the studying aspect.”

Alex found out about the apprenticeship at Benchmark Furniture when two apprentices came in and did a presentation at his school. 

“I really enjoyed hearing about their experience. I applied to do the apprenticeship, did a week’s work experience with Benchmark Furniture, got interviewed and got it! So, it’s not like I was looking for it, but the opportunity arose, and I took it, and it was a good one! 

“I was inspired to pursue a career in furniture making by my construction, product design and resistant materials teachers. 

My product design teacher, Mrs Hayes encouraged me to apply for the apprenticeship. When the two apprentices from Benchmark came in, she said, ‘I think that this is a good opportunity for you Alex, you should follow it through and go for it’.”  

Alex completed his EPA for the Level 2 Furniture Manufacturer apprenticeship with Achieve+Partners achieving a Distinction grade.

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