Shaun Wadsworth reflects on how pleasantly surprised he was that far from stifling the demand for training, the pandemic actually spurred it on.
SINCE the reopening of the Loughborough training centre back in May, it’s been great to see floorlaying training taking place once again. It seems floorlayers and employers were raring to go, and I’m glad to say it hasn’t slowed down since. Of course, it hasn’t been without its challenges.
Some courses by that point had been postponed – not once but numerous times, in a few cases, as FITA ensured it followed government guidance on lockdown procedures through the past 18 months.
The thing that struck me though was that the demand for training has increased over the past year at a rate that, I willingly admit, surprised me a little. Not that I underestimated what we deliver at FITA for one second, as I’m confident FITA has evolved over the past two years in its delivery and course content, which has resulted in an increased number of visitors through the door.
With the help of our fantastic instructors, sponsors, and council members, FITA has maintained its ability to offer high quality training, using the best materials and the most knowledgeable and respected instructors in the industry.
I was however, surprised that, with everything going on in the world, training across the board still remains a key focus to floorlayers, and the desire to self-develop and learn new skills is stronger than ever. But then I remember that most of the floorlaying sector didn’t stop during the pandemic. In the commercial sector alone, it was clear floorlaying in the construction industry was key.
While the pandemic closed down most of the UK, flooring contractors were helping create Nightingale hospitals as well as testing centres in some amazingly short timescales, showing just how well the flooring industry works together.
It’s not just standard training courses that are keeping everyone at FITA busy at the moment either. I’ve been inundated with manufacturers, employers and contractors arranging training for their own specific needs. With the launch of FITA digital we’ve been working with manufacturers to record new content specifically for their brands as well as developing tailored courses for staff and contractors. This has led to us developing whole new courses aimed around specific products as manufacturers, unable to establish their own training facilities, utilise our turnkey solution in Loughborough.
We’ve established relationships with contractors, looking to provide bespoke training opportunities for their fitters, with great examples being based around upcoming jobs. What better way to prepare fitters for upcoming work than recreating the job in a training environment to ensure everyone is ready and prepared for what lies ahead? There are now contractors who use the fact they’ve done that as a method of separating themselves from their competition when tendering for work.
We’ve also hosted events such as CFJ Online Flooring Expo and the NICF LVT fitter of the year semi-finals – both important sector events that FITA has been able to host in the blink of an eye.
Finally, we have our recently developed apprenticeship scheme. Seeing apprentices at FITA is something I’ll never get tired of witnessing. It was a key driver for me when I came onboard as training manager for FITA/CFA and I’m excited to see how we grow and expand our current cohorts in the future.
I suppose that where this is all heading is that FITA really is the one-stop-shop for all things training related. Commercial or domestic, common, or niche, we can cater for all, and we can only keep doing this thanks to the overwhelming support and backing from the flooring industry trade associations, manufacturers, employers, and fitters, while still operating the #FITAWay.
FITA is a not-for-profit organisation that’s truly #ForIndustryByIndustry and if you want to learn more about how to work with FITA or attend training then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
0115 950 6836