This is a brief guide to the Furniture, Furnishings and Interior sector. The booklet will help you
decide if this job sector is one you would like more information on. This booklet was funded by
the Welsh Assembly Government.
Sector Statistics (2008)
Working in Furniture Manufacturing
An introduction to the Furniture, Furnishings
and Interiors sector
Internal Supply Chain Map
Jobs in the Furniture, Furnishings and Interior sector
Furniture Manufacturing and the Environment
The Qualifications valued by Furniture, Furnishing and
Interior sector employers
Where the Welsh Baccalaureate fits
What they are and how they are used in the Print sector
WHERE DIPLOMAS FIT
Showing your options at Level 1, 2 and 3
PERSONAL LEARNING AND THINKING SKILLS (PLTS)
Skills development and the new Diplomas
Personal Learning and Thinking Skills
Employee Case Studies
Example Career Progression Routes
Foundation Modern Apprenticeships and
Welcome to the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry
careers booklet. Produced by Proskills UK Ltd this guide will
provide you with some basic information to help you decide if
the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors (FFI) sector is one that
you would like to work in. The businesses in this sector create
products for the domestic, office and contract markets. Demand
for new quality goods is expected to remain high and restoration
and remedial work is also on the increase in the UK. The FFI
industry is therefore expected to provide many employees the
opportunity to develop long and varied careers with many
individuals choosing to master a range of skills.
The information in this booklet will help you update your
knowledge about the processes, equipment, jobs and career
development opportunities within the FFI industry. There are
many well paid and satisfying jobs within the industry and a
number of rewarding careers await you.
At the back of this booklet we have provided a career progression
chart which has been designed to help you plot your career
development. Link this to our interactive careers website
www.prospect4u.co.uk which holds further information
about the FFI industry to help you choose your future.
• The industry employs around 150,000 in the UK
• The UK FFI Industry has a £10 billion turnover
• Total sales for domestic furniture and furnishings in the UK are over
£5,000 million per year
• There are circa 20,000 FFI companies in the UK
• It is responsible for producing over £1.1 billion pounds worth of export
business from the UK
• Around 25% of the total workforce are over 45 years of age
• Only around 12% of the total workforce is aged under 25
Of the 150,000 people employed in the FFI
industry research indicates furniture and
furnishing production accounts for 75% of
all jobs. Administration, sales and design
account for a further 15% and management,
together with warehousing and distribution
make up the remaining 10%. Other jobs
within the industry can include; buying,
merchandising, finance, human recourses,
information technology, marketing and
public relations, operations and logistics
which means there is something for
everyone at all levels.
03Furniture, Furnishings and
Interior sector statistics
The Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry is built on traditional craft skills which date
back many hundreds of years. Entry into the industry is typically via three main routes.
The first of these is an Apprenticeship, which can lead to a range of exciting, specialist
careers. Another entry route in to the industry is directly through employers, who often look
for people that want to develop a broader range of skills and perform different tasks every day.
The third alternative entry to these is Further/Higher Education (FE/HE), which can result in
qualifications at degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) level that helps teach the business
skills needed to manage or run your own business. There are many training colleges and
universities across the UK which offer relevant FE and HE.
Furniture manufacture can be completed in small custom designed workshops or in large
factories where large, fast moving, automated machinery is used. Soft Furnishing and Craft
Upholstery workshops are generally smaller units employing multi-skilled staff that can
provide comprehensive training in the chosen discipline. Manufacturing work within
workshops and factories can require reasonable physical fitness, due to the amount of
standing and lifting involved. Within the workshops, a wide range of basic tools can be used
including; saws, hammers, needles, as well as small hand held electrical appliances for
sanding, fabric cutting and pressing. In comparison, within the large factories which tend to
offer more Apprenticeships the work may also involve control of large fast moving
machinery. Some of this machinery can be quite noisy and dust extraction systems are
required, due to wood cutting and shaping tasks which is performed at speed. Whether you
work for one of the smaller employers that make up around 75% of the UK FFI industry, the
larger employers or you are self employed, health and safety rules are vitally important and
they must be followed at all times. Working in the production side of the industry requires
good hand–eye coordination. The ability to use tools effectively, team working skills and a
quality driven approach are also highly valued.
Supervisory and management
Once knowledge and experience has been gained in production some employees then
move into training, leadership, health and safety or quality management positions. These
roles require a blend of production knowledge, good communication skills and the ability to
use computers for tasks such as report writing and stock management. There are also sales
and marketing positions that require knowledge of both raw materials and the manufacturing
processes and business administration roles.
Above this level are the senior managers, who need to be able to inspire staff and ensure
business goals are always understood by all employees. Their work is driven by company
plans and it involves ensuring that production targets are constantly met.
Working in Furniture
The FFI industry is traditionally segmented into the following
Each of these sub-sectors manufactures a variety of products. The businesses that
make up these sub sectors create a range of products which have a major impact
on our quality of life. The products they create can be designed for their
functionality, for their looks, for comfort or any combination of the three. Similar to
other sectors, FFI has a number of different product groups and this section
provides you with a brief overview of them all. The product groups covered in the
FFI sector are:
An introduction to the Furniture,
Serving the public directly
and through retail outlets
Desks, seating, tables, window treatments and
other items for the office environment.
Furniture and Furnishings for public areas
such as hotels and airports.
Product Group Examples of Products
Settees, fireside, easy chairs, convertibles
and unit section seating
Storage (wardrobes, dressing tables, cabinets,
chests of drawers), unit and built in storage
Storage (wall units, cupboards) and built-in units (base and
sink units) cimices, pelmets, work surfaces, plinths etc
Dining Room /
Seating and tables, wall storage, sideboards, dressers,
bookcases, cocktail and china cabinets, coffee and
occasional tables, television and entertainment cabinets.
Beds and Bedding
Upholstered bases for mattresses, divans, wooden or
metal bed ends, bedsteads, divan headboards and bed
heads, bunk beds, mattress supports and mattresses.
Blinds, curtains, valances, swags and tails,
pelmets, bedspreads, bed base valances, four poster bed
curtains and drapery, bed corona curtains and drapery,
table covers, cushion covers.
06Furnishings and Interiors sector
The FFI Industry Labour Market & Skills Analysis report, completed by
Proskills in February 2008 reported that job roles fall within these product
Cabinet Making/Hand Crafted Furniture
Finishing/Polishing (including French Polisher)
Each of these product areas employs individuals who have the opportunity to grow
with the company and become highly experienced within their career. The relevant
training can be accomplished through a wide range of work based or college based
qualifications, these are explained further on in this booklet.
Some FFI manufacturers can create products as a bespoke offer, to cover an
individual customer’s requirements, some may specialise in producing furniture and
furnishings for cruise ships, while others develop new ranges of furniture that will
be mass produced for sale to the general public. Either way all products need to be
designed and manufactured to a consistently high quality.
In the UK around 75% of the FFI sectors businesses are micro companies
that employ less than 10 staff. However, there are also some large
businesses that employ many hundreds of staff. Large companies within the
industry include; Ercol Furniture Limited, Havelock Europa, Hypnos,
Mereway and the Morris Furniture Group. Examples within Wales include
Orangebox, Pendragon and Sigma 3 Kitchens.
With globalisation and the growth of businesses using the Internet, UK furniture
manufacturers are now competing with companies that manufacture products
overseas, where overheads can often be much cheaper. This has led to high levels
of imported furniture from countries outside Europe, thus forcing many FFI
businesses to adapt their business models and invest in research to develop new
materials and access new markets. Others have moved into restoration work to
secure jobs and maintain growth and business order levels. Trade forecasts show
the UK industry is expected to grow as demand for new housing continues to
increase and refurbishment orders are also expected to increase sales.
As part of these processes many furniture manufacturers are now training their
staff in different disciplines, so they can work more flexibly and complete different
tasks. This has resulted in many FFI employees now having multi-skilled and
capable of completing more than one professional task. Some examples of how
this works are Frame Makers that have originally been trained in Wood Machining
or Soft Furnishers starting their careers as Sewing Machinists.
Fabric and Trimmings
Hand Tools e.g.:
07Supply and Demand
Supplying Furniture for:
Dining Rooms - cabinets, chairs, tables.
Blinds, curtains, valances.
Lounge - chairs, settees,
occasional tables, cabinets. Blinds,
window drapery, loose covers, cushions.
Fabric wall covering.
Kitchen – cupboards, worktops, blinds
Bedroom - wardrobes, dressers, beds,
side tables. Bedspreads, bed valances,
blinds, curtains, pelmets.
Bathroom – cupboards, blinds, curtains
Supplying Furniture for:
Hotels - beds, dressers, wardrobes,
bars, tables, panelling blinds curtains,
drapes, bed treatments, cushions.
Hospitals - beds, chairs, tables etc.
Schools and Colleges - tables, chairs,
cabinets etc. Stage and window curtains
Nursing Homes - chairs, beds, tables etc.
Curtains, bed treatments, cushions.
Shops - shelving, counters,
tables, chairs, desks etc
Restaurants and Public Houses - bars,
stools, tables, chairs, blinds, curtains,
Supplying Furniture for:
Offices including home working - desks,
chairs, workstations, bookshelves,
curtains, pelmets, valances.
Frame Maker Cabinet
08Internal Supply Chain Map
Upholstery Polishing Finishing
Assembly* Staining Polishing Finishing Fittings
*May be done by hand or using high tech equipment
09 Jobs in the Furniture,
Cabinet Maker/Hand Crafted Furniture
To complete this type of work you need to be good at working with your hands, you need
to be able to use hand held power tools and you have to understand designs and technical
drawings. Maths skills are also very important, as you will need to work out quantities,
measurements and possibly costs. However, there are no fixed minimum entry levels of
qualification needed to become a cabinet maker. That said, GCSEs are valued by many
employers, as they prove you can work hard and achieve goals. Many school based
qualifications also provide you with a strong set of foundation skills, which help you
develop work related skills once your employment has begun. Cabinet makers can work
on kitchen, shop fitting or other furniture manufacture and within this employment many
options exist across the UK.
You can gain relevant skills on a number of work related courses. These include National
Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) - often taught through day release to college and distance
learning (online modules). Some examples of work related courses that are taken by
cabinet makers are:
• Apprenticeship programmes with National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 in
Making and Installing Furniture
• NVQs in Supporting the Production of Furniture and Furnishings.
• City & Guilds Certificates, which provide woodwork modules in Furniture Production.
These can form part of the apprenticeship – i.e. 5610 in Furniture Production
Before any new furniture products are manufactured, a detailed plan, providing information
such as material use, size and functionality has to be created. These plans are developed
by designers, who can work in offices and production areas. When creating plans for
a new product there are many factors that a designer must consider; as well as how
a finished product will look, a designer has to consider cost and availability of materials,
the products functions (customer requirements and intended use) and also safety issues.
The plans drawn up by a designer have to be approved by management before any
production can begin. The designs created can initially be sketched by hand or developed
using Computer Aided Design programmes, known widely as CAD. Prototypes and
models may then be created to help in the decision making processes before production
is agreed. Management decisions depend upon factors such as production costs,
business plans, the availability of materials, current orders and market conditions created
by trends and competition from other businesses.
Designers can also be tasked with improving current designs and some also take part in
production processes, making sure the furniture created matches with their original plans.
Products can be developed for mass market production or for a ‘one-off’ order to cover
a special project or individual client request e.g. a bespoke design of soft furnisher.
Designers are often given guidelines and asked to create products with specific functions
using limited materials. To accomplish this they need to develop their knowledge about
a wide range of materials and the greater their knowledge and experience the better their
Furnishings and Interior sector 10
11 Jobs in the Furniture,
Finisher/Polisher (including French Polisher)
Furniture finishers and polishers prepare and treat wood to give it a smooth finish and
bring out the beauty of the natural timber. They are responsible for finishing items such
as dining tables and chairs, lounge suites, cabinets, chests of drawers, wall units, kitchen
cabinets, musical instruments, shop fittings to ensure they are ready for sale. They may
also work on fixed timbers such as doors or wall fittings in old buildings.
Most furniture polishing is carried out using the pressure spray-painting method, although
hand polishing and other machine applications are also used. A knowledge of stains,
sanding, timber based surfaces, metals and plastics is required. Some furniture polishers
specialise as spray finishers using low pressure spray equipment and guns. Furniture
polishers tend to work in a factory environment with efficient fume and dust extraction
equipment including overalls, dust masks and goggles. French polishers carry out the
same basic processes in preparing the wood and then finishing it. They tend to work in
small units carrying out specialised hand polishing.
12Furnishings and Interior sector
Production (Manufacturing/Assembling/Installation for Kitchens,
Furniture, Furnishings, Blinds and Shutters)
As a production worker you could be helping to make any kind of manufactured goods –
from kitchen tables to soft furnishings. The job can be very varied; the work may be heavy
or light, quite routine or very specialised. In many manufacturing jobs you may be
operating machinery – setting it up, controlling it and supplying it with the material or
components. You may also be required to assemble the product (fitting items together) or
pack the components or finished article.
Installation of items means they will be secured permanently in position. Perhaps the most
obvious example of domestic fitted furniture is that of Kitchen Installation, although other
installations include bedrooms, bathrooms and utility rooms. Commercial and public
buildings such offices, shops, hospitals, laboratories and prisons also require units of
furniture to be secured.
Job roles which involve the fitting, shaping and securing of products within the FFI Industry
• Kitchen Fitter: floor, wall and island cupboards/units, work surfaces, mouldings
• Furniture Fitter: shelving, wardrobes, storage units, work surfaces, mouldings
• Blind and Shutter Installer: Internal and external blinds, awnings, shutters etc
• Soft Furnishing Installer. Blinds of all types, curtain laths, curtain tracks, hang
and dress window and bed curtains, valances, and draperies.
The installer will also need to take account of and accommodate the utility services
and special design features. An example of this would be making provision for the
safe passage of water, gas and low voltage cabling through the item of furniture or unit.
A competent Installer will be skilled in the use of a range of hand tools, power tools
and templates, and will be able to align, scribe and make level a range of units. Other
transferable skills include: reading drawings/plans and specifications, measuring,
marking, cutting and securing. Knowledge of background structures (solid/cavity walls
etc) is required so that a secure fixing can be made. There are many fixing devices
available and the appropriate one must be used. For kitchen fitting in particular, the Fitter
will be aware of the multitude of regulations which apply to the design and fitting of
appliances and to the provision of the utilities including heating, lighting and ventilation.
Some Installers will also have input into the design of the installation, will meet and
satisfy customer demands and make arrangements for the safe movement of goods
in and out of the installation area. Some companies are able to provide opportunities
for a diverse range of craft skills especially if they complete works before and after the
installation of cabinetry – examples might be ceramic and floor tiling, plaster patching,
basic plumbing, and decoration. Some smaller companies offer a complete service:
designing, making and installing kitchens, furniture and furnishings.
These jobs require a wide set of skills and techniques together with knowledge about
furniture manufacture and its history. The work ranges from restoring parts to completely
rebuilding pieces of furniture, which can include making replacement parts.
With qualifications and experience furniture restorers can earn between £20,000 and
£40,000 a year (2008).
Qualified and experienced restorers are aware how furniture was and is made and they
also understand the causes of weakness and how damage develops though deterioration.
Modern furniture is often now created using materials such as metal, glass, stone and
plastics. Many of these items are discarded once damaged but wood has qualities that
continue to appeal and wooden furniture is often built to last and it is repairable.
Working in a workshop with a wide range of tools and equipment as a restorer you
may be required to work alone or alongside other employees. As well as restoration
work you may be required to travel to visit customers to collect and deliver furniture
after repairs are complete and you may be responsible for keeping the workshop
clean and tidy. You will have to make a careful and detailed examination of damaged
furniture before starting any repairs. The condition of the piece will help you decide
what the best way to restore it is and what materials and techniques you need.
A written report and estimate of the costs of repair may be needed before the
customer agrees to any restoration.
Jobs in the Furniture,
This is the art of producing fabric decoration to windows, beds, walls and ceilings and the
production of removable covers for seat furniture and cushions. There are two areas of
production of soft furnishing, one for the mass market and the other offering bespoke
items. The mass market section often undertaken in modern workrooms requires skill in
the use of more sophisticated high speed machines used for layering and cutting the
material, plain sewing, hemming and finishing. The bespoke area comprises mostly of
smaller units where more hand skills are required. You will be taught how to measure
and cut accurately and hand sew neatly the various stitches used in the manufacturing
process, how to use a sewing machine to join lengths of fabric together and pattern match.
You will have the opportunity to develop your skills to become a supervisor or workroom
manager able to oversee and train other members of the staff. Design, estimate for and
cut and make ornate fabric treatments for use in homes, hotels, boardrooms and historic
Qualifications that are useful in these positions include Apprenticeships, NVQs, City and
Guilds Certificates and Diplomas. Within these qualifications there are modules that look
at furniture and Soft Furnishing production and design and craft. However these are not
always essential when looking to gain entry level jobs. Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)
and degree courses in furniture-related subjects such as furniture making, furniture
restoration, furniture production and furniture design are available at some colleges and
universities. The availability of these courses depends on the local job market, which can
have a strong influence on the types of skills and qualifications trainers teach.
Some useful qualifications include:
• NVQ Level 2 in Making and Installing Furniture
• NVQ Level 3 in Making and Installing Production Furniture
• NVQ Level 3 in Making and Repairing Hand-crafted Furniture
• City and Guilds Level 4 Creative Arts Higher Professional Development
Furnishings and Interior sector
Employed in craft workshops and by furniture manufacturers this job can be physically
demanding, as lifting and carrying furniture and a lot of bending and standing is often
involved. Working as an upholsterer in a craft workshop your work may involve applying
suspensions, fillings and covering chairs, bed headboards and settees using modern or
the traditional method of forming the shape of the stuffing by rows of stitches. You could
be employed to work in a production factory, upholstering complete items or you may
work on a particular part, such as chair arms. As part of this you may be involved in fixing
suspensions and attaching fillings, usually of polyester foam, cutting, sewing and attaching
the fabric to the item with staples, using a staple gun. Attaching castors and trimmings
i.e. braid, cord and fringe.
Once your skills and knowledge develop you could then gain employment in a ‘craft’
position, working on individual pieces of new furniture or renovating or re-upholstering
old and antique furniture. Within this job your advanced skills and knowledge will be
used to plan your work, provide advice on fabric use and complete estimations of costs.
You may be involved in team work and be asked to prepare patterns and templates for
other junior staff and help them with their training. You could also be involved in repairing
and re-upholstering furniture, this can involve removing damaged frameworks and
Jobs in the Furniture,
Wood machinists are employed by furniture manufacturers to cut, shape and prepare
timber which is then used for furniture production. The work requires good hand eye
coordination and can involve the use of machinery and hand held tools such as saws,
planers and routers. Some employers also train their staff to use computer aided design
and manufacturing software programmes (CAD/CAM). Wood machinists are expected
to plan efficient use of raw timber to keep waste to a minimum and they may have to
understand design briefs and follow detailed technical drawings.
Regardless of the tasks or the employer, health and safety is very important and safety
procedures must be followed at all times. Wood machinists often start out on an
Apprenticeship with furniture manufacturers. During training they develop a wide range
of skills, including machine work, assembly and cabinet making. National Vocational
Qualifications (NVQs) in Wood Machining are available at Level 2 and Level 3 and there
are options for furniture making. Qualifications such as Apprenticeships and Foundation
Modern Apprenticeships include City and Guilds Certificates as well as NVQs and within
these there are individual modules such as:
• Producing shaped, turned, jointed, sanded & bored objects
• Making sawn and planed products
• Using CNC/NC machine tools
• Making and repairing production furniture
• Machinery and equipment maintenance
• Making and repairing hand crafted furniture
Work related training courses such as these provide hands on experience and they help
employees develop broad ranging skills and knowledge. With experience wood machinists
can then make decisions such as which type of timber is needed for making particular
products, with decisions being based on the strengths and qualities of different timber.
As well as the ability to follow technical drawings, good maths skills, for working out the
amount of timber needed and efficient cutting angles are also required. Other important
skills employers look for at interview can include problem solving and good communication
skills. Once the days work is complete the wood machinists may be responsible for
cleaning the workshop, maintaining tools and servicing equipment. Wood machinists are
needed in the manufacture of a very wide range of furnishings. Kitchen cabinets, tables
and chairs, door and window frames, wardrobes, shelving, fencing and pallets are only
a few examples of these.
Furnishings and Interior sector
17 Furniture Manufacturing
and the Environment
The manufacture of man made products from raw materials unavoidably creates some
waste products and emissions. The disposal of these can be harmful to our environment
if it is not strictly controlled and the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry have a
very responsible attitude towards this.
By supporting research and assisting in the setting up of waste control systems FFI
industry bodies have raised awareness of environmental issues caused through the
waste created by furniture manufacture. As a consequence many UK furniture
manufacturers are now helping to reduce harmful emissions and waste products
are being recycled where ever possible.
18The Qualifications valued by
Furniture, Furnishing and
Interior sector employers
Although Apprenticeships are the traditional route to many of the jobs found within the FFI
industry the type of qualifications valued by the industry range from the ‘academic’
(GCSEs, A’ Levels in: English, Maths, Science, ICT, Design Technology, Business Studies
and Art) to ‘vocational’ and ‘work related qualifications’ such as AVCEs, NVQs, City and
Guilds Certificates, BTEC HNCs/HNDs and Foundation Degrees (the availability of these
within Wales is limited). Vocational qualifications involve study and work based training and
some can be completed part time, whilst employed. This means learners (and this includes
older people looking to change careers) can ‘earn’ while they ‘learn’ and can develop
experience at the same time as they complete their qualifications.
An example of the work related qualifications for a Furniture Restorer which the FFI
employer’s value would be:
• The City and Guilds 5610 Certificates in Furniture Production Level 1, 2 & 3
• An NVQ Level 2 in Making and Installing Furniture
• An NVQ Level 3 in Making and Repairing Handcrafted Furniture
Also Furniture Restorers may also have a relevant Degree, Foundation Degree or BTEC
Higher National Diploma (HND). For specific guidance on the role of Furniture Restorer
and other occupational areas, please read the relevant job descriptions.
Further to this the new Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design, which will be taught
in schools across and work based study. the UK from September 2009, provides a third
choice of study for 14-19s. The Diploma has been designed to link both academic.
19 Where the Welsh
The Welsh Baccalaureate is an exciting qualification for students in Wales that adds a
valuable new dimension to the subjects and courses already available for 14 to 19 year old
It combines personal development skills with existing qualifications like A levels,
NVQs and GCSEs to make one wider award that is valued by employers and universities.
The Welsh Assembly Government introduced the Welsh Baccalaureate to transform
learning for young people in Wales. It gives broader experiences than traditional learning
programmes, to suit the diverse needs of young people. It can be studied in English or
Welsh, or a combination of the two languages.
For further information please visit www.welshbaccalaureate.org.uk
What are the new opportunities within the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification?
From 2009, elements of the new 14 –19 Diplomas that are being developed in England
will be available in Wales. As the Welsh Baccalaureate is already a well established and
a well regarded qualification, these elements will fit within the Welsh Baccalaureate
Qualification Framework. The elements are Principal Learning and the Project/Extended
What is Principal Learning?
Principal Learning is a new qualification that has been developed in partnership with
employers and universities. It will give learners an insight into what is involved in an
occupational area without committing the learner to a career in that area. There will be
opportunities to experience different styles of learning in different environments such as
school, college and the workplace, with an emphasis on practical activities.
The Principal Learning qualifications are free standing qualifications that may be used
together with, or instead of, other approved qualifications as part of the Options
requirements within the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.
They will be available at levels 1 [Foundation], 2 [Intermediate] and 3 [Advanced] of the
National Qualifications Framework.
The Principal Learning qualifications will be phased in over three years. From September
2009, the first four will be made available (Information Technology; Construction and the
Built Environment; Engineering, and Creative and Media).
By 2012 they will be available in a further 10 occupational areas. (Society, Health and
Development; Environmental and Land-based Studies; Business Administration and
Finance; Manufacturing and Product Design; Hospitality; Hair and Beauty Studies;
Travel and Tourism; Public Services; Sport and Leisure; Retail).
What are the Project/Extended Project Qualifications?
The Project/Extended Project Qualifications are freestanding qualifications that will let
the learner choose their own topic and develop skills in managing and presenting their
learning. The Project/Extended Project Qualifications will be available at level 1
[Foundation], level 2 [Higher] and level 3 [Extended] and can be taken as part of or
separate from the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.
If the Project/Extended Project is taken within the Welsh Baccalaureate, the learner will be
provided with opportunities to draw upon and integrate their learning from all components
of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification. Also, the Project/Extended Project qualification
may be an alternative (proxy) to the Individual Investigation requirement of the Welsh
Baccalaureate, provided the Project/Extended Project also meets the requirements of
the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.
The stronger your communication skills
are, the better your ability to interact with
other team members and customers,
to inform, persuade and create action.
Within this sector it is essential to have
good communication skills because you
are part of a team and your role may
also have direct contact with business
customers. Communication includes
verbal, written and reading skills and
instructions are often initially written.
They must be read, understood and
you may also then need to explain
them verbally in an effective way.
Many modern manufacturing processes rely
on computer controlled machinery known as
CAD –CAM this stands for Computer Aided
Design – Computer Aided Manufacture. As a
consequence computer programming is now
taught within Apprenticeships. Within FFI
designers also often use CAD programmes
to develop new ideas and managers and
administration staff use computers every day
for planning, communication, data analysis
and report writing.
WORKING WITH OTHERS
Within the FFI industry people often have to
work very closely with other work colleagues.
Effective team working is therefore essential
for products to be manufactured safely, to
high quality standards whilst achieving
business targets. Sharing information and
supporting each other on a daily basis is an
integral part of this and the interactions which
take place can improve internal processes,
through the development of ‘best practice’
systems and knowledge transfer between
APPLICATION OF NUMBER
All jobs in manufacturing involve some use of
numbers. Things like measuring upholstery
materials and timber, site measuring for fitted
furniture, curtains and wall covering, estimating
time and material, checking production against
output targets and setting up machinery are
daily tasks that involve maths. From the
designers that create new product plans
(involves recording measurements) to the
engineers that maintain machinery (calibration
tests) through to managers who set budgets
and monitor stock levels – all employees
use maths skills every day.
Why are Key Skills so important?
Key Skills form an essential part of your ‘employability’. Key Skills are transferable skills
because they are used in almost every job sector. The information on this page shows you
how these skills are used by Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors sector employers.
People often change their jobs several times throughout their career. The ‘key’ transferable
skills shown below develop during this process and continue to improve due to common
activities found in every business.
A lack of key skills in
any business can
affect the company’s
ability to survive
21 Key Skills
IMPROVING OWN LEARNING
Modern manufacturing industries like Furniture,
Furnishings and Interiors are continuously changing and
adapting to deal with market pressures and competition.
In tough markets, where profit margins can be small, the
latest technology can be the difference between a
business’s success and its failure. Staff therefore have to
be flexible in their daily activities and willing to complete
training when systems are changed or new machinery is
introduced. Within FFI many staff are now expected to
complete training in more than one area. This leads to
self improvement, which provides the employee with
enhanced employment options
The ability to use ones knowledge to
solve difficulties in design, manufacture
or installation not previously encountered.
During manufacturing things occasionally
go wrong. The ability to deal with this
effectively and learn from the problems to
ensure they don’t happen again, is valued
very highly. An interruption to a
manufacturing process can cost many
thousands of pounds, so the ability to fix
the problem safely, effectively and quickly
can be critical to a businesses success.
Although maintenance procedures and
systems to reduce machine downtime
are common in today’s competitive global
marketplace, where the margins between
profit and loss are narrow good problem
solving skills to manage the unexpected
can be vital.
23Personal Learning and
Thinking Skills (PLTS)
Research with business leaders has indicated that the six skills highlighted in the
text below (PLTS skills) are an important part of the skills development of all
Employees who can (1) Self Manage their own skills development is highly valued by
businesses. To achieve this you need to be enthusiastic about your work. Enthusiasm
helps you become (2) An Effective Participant who gets the job done and (3) A Team
Worker that is happy to support other staff.
However businesses also need their employees to be (4) Independent Enquirers, as
this helps you find solutions to problems and act on those findings. Within this it is
important to become a (5) Reflective Learner as this helps you understand what you
have learned and develop the ability to explain any benefit to other staff clearly, so the
greatest benefit to the business can be gained.
It is also important in todays challenging business market to be (6) A Creative Thinker.
Creativity is a very valuable business tool. Businesses that are market leaders in their
industry look for this skill at interview. Staff who are creative can provide a business with
new ideas and these ideas can lead to reduced costs and/or increased profits. In today’s
challenging business market creativity can be the difference between a businesses success
and its failure.
These PLTS skills will be tested within the new Diploma qualifications that are being introduced
in schools from 2008
24Employee Case studies
Jim Davidson - Adult Apprentice Joiner Furniture Assembly
(Havelock Europa Plc)
• Tried when I left school (1977) to join the Construction trade without
• Always wanted to have a craft or trade skill
• Started on Youth Training Scheme (YTS) at BUKO’s in Glenrothes
• 1978 joined Babygro as ‘Eastman’ knife cutter, stayed for 15 years
• Had various jobs and was recently made redundant from Wind Turbine
• 2003/4 undertook ‘Training For Work’ at an FE College – Carpentry &
Joinery for the Construction Industry
• At 44 and I am living my dream
• Havelock Europa offered ‘Work Experience’ practical placement
• Offered Full-Time Employment
• Offered to continue apprenticeship
• Discussed Modern Apprenticeship Framework options with College Apprenticeship Advisor
• Decided to follow Furniture Framework rather than Construction after consideration
• Currently am working on the design and manufacture of a chair as my final project for my NVQ
• I’ve really enjoyed my college course which has given me the skills, knowledge and confidence
to develop myself in this industry
• Looking forward to completing my NVQ and currently making good progress with my level 3
• I enjoy working for Havelock and the opportunity I have had to develop myself
Kelsey Whyte - Modern Apprentice Joiner Furniture Assembly
(Havelock Europa Plc)
• Enjoyed Craft Work at School
• Heard about Havelock and applied for an Apprenticeship
• 1st Interview with School grades and Clock
• 2nd Interview with Parents + tour + test
• Started on probationary period Aug 05
• Started NVQ in Furniture Manufacture in September 05
• Inducted and registered with College, City & Guilds for level 2 + 3 and
Modern Apprenticeship in Furniture Manufacture
• Attended local College from Sept 05 on Day release (every Wed) developing skills and knowledge
for my NVQ level 2 portfolio
• I enjoy my NVQ and college course and feel I am improving my knowledge and skills
• I really enjoyed when I was asked to be involved in a special project (MRI Model Scanner)
• Havelock Europa was approached by the NHS to make a MRI model scanner for young children
• I was given a photograph of what was to be made by the Production Director (Alan Thomson)
• I was asked to think about how to make this model and report back
• I had to consider the following aspects: Scale, Materials, Weight, Portability and Colour
• Looking forward to completing my NVQ level 2 and progressing with my level 3
• I enjoy working for Havelock and this industry
• I do recognise that I am working in a male dominated environment but I enjoy the challenge
• After my apprenticeship I think I would like to be involved in design or planning
25Employee Case studies
James Morrison - Apprenticeship in Making and
Installing at Furniture Rycotewood Furniture Centre
I am 21 and live in Hook in Hampshire. After completing my AVCE
in Art and Design I decided to follow a career in woodworking,
rather than go to university to study Product Design, which was
my other main area of interest. I approached Benchmark
woodworking, a specialist woodworking company producing work
for clients such as Foster and Partners, the Eden project and
Conran and Partners. I started off by doing one weeks work
experience followed by a three month trial period which I
I have now been with the company for 8 months. At the same time as working and earning I am
studying an apprenticeship in Making and Installing Furniture. I attend college one day a week in
order to learn the underpinning knowledge and practical skills relating to my role in the workplace.
The course will last for two years at which point I will then decide if I would like to continue being
an apprentice at an advanced level. I am enjoying my job and the college course. Ultimately, in
years to come I would like to have my own woodworking company.
Kate May – Successfully completed an
Advanced Level Furniture Production course
Kate May, from Clitheroe, completed an Advanced Level
Furniture Production course at the College. Her tutors
nominated her for the award after the dedicated student
achieved 100% attendance and created some outstanding
designs including innovative furniture for pets. Kate
received her medal at a presentation event held at
Haydock Park racecourse.
Kate began studying at Burnley College in September
2003 after a number of years in the hotel management
industry. The City and Guilds Medals for Excellence are awarded to “learners whose dedication and
talent enables them to produce work of an exceptional standard.” Kate has now started her own
business ‘Pink Whiskers’ which is based in Clitheroe after she received commissions from friends and
family during her course. The business specialises in making bespoke furniture such as beds and
chairs for pets.
Kate herself is looking forward to seeing her business grow “I had always planned to start my own
business after completing my course at College and I’ve already received several commissions.
Winning the Medal for Excellence has been brilliant as people know they will get an extremely high
standard of work if they order some furniture. All my tutors at College were a great help and I can’t
wait to carry on developing my skills in the future.”
Kate’s tutors were delighted that she won the award, “Kate’s been a brilliant student right from the
start. She has always gone above and beyond what is expected of her. She has produced some
excellent designs and has real flair for furniture production. I wish her all the best for the future
because she has all the skills needed to make her own business a real success.” Anyone interested
in Kate’s products can visit her showroom based at Swan Courtyard in Clitheroe. Alternatively you can
see some of her designs at www.pinkwhiskers.co.uk
26Employee Case studies
Robert Geary – Apprentice Upholstery Cutter
As an apprentice upholstery cutter you will be employed
in an industry, which offers training in a variety of different
skills and methods which are required to help the
production of domestic or commercial furniture. You will
be following a comprehensive training programme
enabling you to cut a variety of different styles and
textured fabrics, which are used in the trade.
The training I have received has been varied and covers
the use of tools and equipment, to enable you to plan out
and cut the fabric to the desired style and effect. This will
enable you to cut plain cloth to chequered cover and also
single layered fabric to multiple layers. Apprentices
should be prepared to work to company standards and
demonstrate a degree of attention to detail. The industry
requires you to be interested in producing work of quality
as companies are working to very high standards.
Training programmes have been specially produced to
enable you to monitor your own personal development and produce evidence required for you to
progress towards achieving a National Vocational Qualification.
I gained qualifications in English, Math’s and Science at school and I now work for a company called
Wade Upholstery. The main influence for choosing Upholstery Cutting as a career was because my
dad and older brother are both Upholsterers I was interested in the upholstery side of furniture
making. I then became more interested in the cutting side of the production.
I have undertaken a full training programme in company and on day to a local training provider. I was
supervised by upholstery qualified training staff ensuring that I achieved my apprenticeship at level 2.
I then went on to complete my advanced apprenticeship for hand crafted furniture. The benefits of
training have helped me to become experienced and confident on all levels of cutting for the
upholstery trade. I am now confident enough to take the responsibility of taking on some supervisory
and quality control roles when absences occur in these areas.
Industry Speciﬁc Qualiﬁcations
Typical Wage Bands
(Including craft roles)
FLT, Skills for Life Cert
Entry level 1,2 & 3
Please note that these qualiﬁcations are desirable but not essential.
Within the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry, you could also work in any of the
following disciplines: Administration, Environment, Health and Safety, Marketing, Project
Management, or Quality Assurance.
£12,000 – £14,000
GCSE’s (Grades A*-G)
or potential to achieve
L2 NVQ L2 & Cert L2
Making & Installing
NVQ 2 + Tech Cert L2 in:
£14,000 – £18,000
GCSE’s (Grades A*-C)
NVQ L3 & Cert L3
Fitted Interiors &
Cert L3 Furniture
£18,000 – £25,000
Cutter & Sewer)
Industry Speciﬁc Qualiﬁcations
Typical Wage Bands
For more information please visit www.prospect4u.co.uk
HNC for e.g.
£25,000 – £40,000
Level 5 and above
Management NVQ L5
£45,000 – £75,000+
Job Profile Average Yearly Salary
Wood Machinists £15,500
Cabinet Makers £18,000
Veneer Operatives £10,000
Frame Makers £15,500
Cushion Fillers £14,500
Maintenance Workers £18,500
Jig Makers £9,000
General Assistants £15,500
Metal / Plastic Workers £7,000
Quality Controllers £17,000
29Guidelines to Salaries within
the Furniture, Furnishings and
Please note that there are regional variations, these figures give a guideline to the average salary.
The information has been compiled from an employer survey.
It is possible to follow a Foundation Modern Apprenticeship (FMA) in which the NVQ is
at level 2, or a Modern Apprenticeship (MA) in which the NVQ is at level 3 within the
Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors industry. Either apprenticeship will require you to
achieve the following:
• An NVQ
• A separate technical certificate (to provide the required job knowledge)
• Key Skills
• Completion of a Employment Rights and Responsibilities workbook
The NVQ part must be completed whilst looking on the job; the rest can be completed
either on or off the job.
Some typical jobs include:
• CAD / Designer
• CNC Machinist
• Handcrafted Furniture Maker
• Production (including installer / manufacturer / assembler)
• Polisher / Finisher
• Soft Furnisher
• Wood Machinist
• Upholsterer (including cutter and sewer)
• Cabinet Maker
A Training Provider or College usually arranges the training for you; provides ongoing
support and helps you to progress. Once all of the requirements have been met, you
will receive an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate.
Your Next Step
If after reading this document you want to have a more detailed discussion
regarding a career in the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors sector further
information is available from Proskills, please call our information line on
01235 432 032
PROSKILLS BACKING YOU
Proskills is the voice of employers working on behalf of the
Building Products, Ceramics, Coatings, Extractives, Furniture,
Furnishings & Interiors, Glass, Paper and Print industries, which
make up the process and manufacturing sector.
Proskills are passionate about skills and their ability to improve
the productivity of business. Led by employers, our role is to
have a positive and direct impact on policies that affect the skills,
productivity and competitive position of our industries. We
promote and support apprenticeships, qualifications, continuing
skills development and performance improvement. We directly
influence the provision of high quality training and education
resources to ensure continued business success of our
members and their employees. We are delighted to provide this
career pathway and hope it will help you to decide on your future
For more information go to our careers website on