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Spotlight on FIAA

June 7th, 2015




The Furnishing Industry Association (FIAA) of Australia is an association for the furnishing, kitchen, cabinet-making and joinery industries. It represents a diverse group of more than 650 members and industry partners, says Chief Executive Dean Brakell.

“It’s a cot to coffin scenario where literally we have coffin manufacturers, through to upholsterers, picture framers, bedding, furniture manufacturers, commercial furniture manufacturers, furniture polishers, kitchen manufacturers,” he says.

About 85 per cent of the FIAA’s membership is made up of small to medium sized businesses, predominantly family businesses. It also includes large manufacturers and suppliers.

The FIAA was formed in 1948 with the goal of advocating for the furniture and furnishing related industries as well as providing training and workplace standards. The organisation oversees apprenticeships mainly in New South Wales, the ACT and South Australia. Currently, the FIAA is looking to extend its apprentice programs in other states. But Brakell says the withdrawal of the Federal Government’s Tools For Your Trade program, which gave apprentices funding to buy tools, in July last year resulted in a drop in apprentices across all industries.

“Nationally there’s been an 18 per cent decline for apprenticeship numbers, but in our sector I think there’s probably been about a 10 per cent reduction in apprenticeship take-up,” he says.

“When the Federal Government took away Tools For The Trade, we personally think it was rorted somewhat, could have been better managed and we would have got a lot more mature-aged apprentices through the scheme.”

“We can actually show an immediate drop-out rate as soon as the Federal Government cut that incentive.”

The furniture and furnishing related industry is facing a shortage of qualified supervisors, which the FIAA hope to address with a new supervisory course now in development.

“There’s heaps of management courses people can do, but they need small bite-size chunks specific to the industry to give them some added skills to properly manage and supervise people in our industry” Brakell says.

“Flexible, on the job and self-paced training is the key to helping small to medium businesses upgrade their qualifications” he says.

“SME business owners are into it up to their armpits all day, every day and to try and take them out of their businesses is a real challenge,” Brakell says.

FIAA is holding its Industry Conference on18 September 2015. Speakers include HIA senior economist Shane Garrett and University of Western Sydney senior lecturer Dr Sasha Alexander, who will be making a presentation on the future of manufacturing and design innovation.

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