FIESTA announces partnership with the Apprenticeship Management Group

The Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (FIESTA) has entered into an agreement with the Apprenticeship Management Group to launch a new initiative, Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, that will support furnishing businesses of all sizes to recruit and manage apprentices.

Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus was established in July 2018 and will offer businesses a specialist apprentice recruitment service, Apprentice Training Agency (ATA) and Levy Management Company.

Gary Baker, chairman of FIESTA, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Apprentice Management Group. Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will be a pathway for employers to recruit and develop the skills of the next generation. Companies that sign up to Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will receive advice and guidance on the best training that is available to the sector.

“Through Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, micro and SME non-levy paying employers will be able to access a much wider selection of funded skills training, while large employers can outsource the apprenticeship management to obtain best value for money and real time monitoring from their apprentice levy digital accounts.”

John Henry, director at the Apprenticeship Management Group, said: “Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will enable employers in the sector to fill their skills gaps and look to establish training and progression plans both now and well into the future. Young people entering the furniture and interiors sector and existing employees wishing to up-skill are looking for learning opportunities and career progression, which is precisely what Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will help them achieve.

“We urge all companies large or small to take advantage of Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus and I am confident that they will reap the benefits in very short time. Business leaders wish to focus on their core business opportunities and do not need to spend their valuable time and expense on seeking to access opportunities in training that we will do for them. I am confident that they will be delighted at the outcomes the Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus team will achieve on their behalf.”

For more information about FIESTA and Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus, please go to



Notes to editors

Services available through Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus:

Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA)

This service is ideal for smaller companies that are not currently Apprenticeship Levy payers i.e. payrolls of £3m or less. However, it is also an attractive system for levy paying organisations wishing to employ entry level apprentices, as it allows them to dedicate their own levy pot to upskilling existing staff.

The Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus ATA will qualify as a levy payer so it can recruit and employ the apprentice on behalf of the host member. The ATA oversees all the administrative aspects of the apprenticeship, providing ongoing HR and training support, sourcing and contracting with training providers and funding agencies, and undertaking performance management reviews.  The ATA also applies for relevant incentive payments on the host’s behalf, which can be used to offset their costs, outlined below.

The host company pays a 10% contribution towards the cost of the training course – normally between £20 and £50 per month for 12 months or so – and a small management fee based on the apprentice’s monthly salary.

Levy Management

This is aimed at larger levy paying companies that directly employ one or more apprentices.  While such companies are able to contract directly with a training provider, last year’s reformed system transfers ownership of apprentices from training providers to employers. This is intended to improve the quality of training, but it will also put a great deal more responsibility on the employer.

The AMG Management Service essentially takes over these responsibilities. For a small monthly fee, this service will source and contract the training provider and negotiate the cost of apprenticeship training as well as the cost of end point assessments.  It will also manage and monitor monthly payments to training providers and claim additional learning support and employment incentives on the employer’s behalf.

The service can be used for both new apprentices and existing employees who are being upskilled.  If required, Furniture and Interiors Skills Plus will also help companies to recruit suitable apprentices by placing advertisements, pre interviewing and short listing candidates.


More information about FIESTA, including its vision and mission, is available here.

FIESTA members include: The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF), the British Contract Furnishing Association (BCFA), the Association of British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM), The Furniture Makers’ Company (FMC), the Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA), The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET) and the National Bed Federation (NBF).

FIESTA will work with the British Furniture Confederation to communicate education and training needs to the government.

For more information, please contact

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