Bespoke joinery manufacturer, JSJ UK, has unveiled its new skills investment strategy, prioritising apprenticeships, traditional and niche trades, and developing current and future colleagues.

Buoyed by the success of its partnership with North Lancs Training Group (NLTG), managing director – and former apprentice – Jack Smith, has pledged to futureproof his business through a continued commitment to employee training, having already invested hundreds of hours into staff development over recent years.

Twelve months into a partnership with NLTG, JSJ UK has seen the benefits of partnering with a local training provider with a manufacturing specialism. With apprentices currently representing more than a sixth of the business’s workforce, JSJ UK’s training programme is in full swing, and due to get bigger.

Recording record growth in 2023, the latest strategy pins continued expansion on employee development. Jack says: “I’ve always been a big believer in developing people and providing opportunities to upskill. I began my career as an apprentice, so I know how any investment of time and money pays dividends for both individuals and businesses.

“As a business owner, I’ve learnt a lot. It’s not always easy to get it right, and over the last 12 months, in partnership with NLTG, the path ahead has become clearer than ever. Apprenticeships continue to be a priority – with new processes in place to boost success – and we’ll also be working to upskill current staff members and provide training for traditional trades. Our expert craftsmanship is what sets JSJ UK apart. We must invest in niche skills, such as the ability to understand detailed drawings, which creates innovative thinking, problem solving, and real attention to detail, as such skills set us apart when it comes to making our client’s vision a reality.

“Over the years, our apprenticeship schemes have recorded numerous highlights. I’ve seen first-hand how an apprentice can become an invaluable member of our team, and how investing in an individual can really turn their life around.”

Kane Maddran, trainee quantity surveyor, joined JSJ UK as a labourer at age 17. Over the last seven years, he completed an apprenticeship in site carpentry and site supervision and is commencing his final year of a quantity surveying degree.

He says: “I’ve gained fantastic experience at JSJ UK. I’ve been on-site, in the office, and in the workshop. I’ve been supported through my career goals and am working towards ultimately becoming a chartered quantity surveyor. The benefits of investing in your own staff go both ways – my career has developed, but the business is able to develop talent in the areas it needs it most.”

Meanwhile, Ross Gorman, bench hand assembler, is midway through a two-year bespoke furniture maker apprenticeship. He joined JSJ UK after moving to Preston, and through his apprenticeship has enhanced his skillset significantly.

Ross said: “I’ve felt the benefit of skills investment first-hand. Before joining JSJ UK, I had been a frame builder, making beds. I’m now completing a bespoke cabinet making apprenticeship, which requires a much higher level of craftsmanship. I’ve been involved in client projects that I’m incredibly proud of – all while gaining expertise and of course, being paid to train.

“I recently worked on a curved wall unit for a bespoke office fit out. It’s an impressive piece of craftsmanship that requires specialist skills to build. I enjoy the work, I’m well supported, and I know I’m always moving forward.”

Elsewhere, JSJ UK has supported head of finance & procurement, Emma Stoddart, through accounting qualifications and invested in an array of other upskilling projects. Apprentice bench joiner, Nathen Rizza, who initially joined JSJ UK on an eight-week traineeship, is also underway with a two-year level 2 furniture manufacturer apprenticeship, which he is due to complete in November 2024.

Jack says, “Under our new strategy, we’ll know exactly where we’re getting the talent to fuel every area of growth. We employ people that want to do a good job, and we’ll ensure they have every opportunity to do exactly that.”

Andy Rae, furniture team assistant manager at NLTG, said: “Since we started working with JSJ UK in September 2022, it has been very clear that they are a company that really understands the need to invest in the future and the importance of developing their staff.

“There has been good communication from them in all aspects of the apprenticeship journey and great support in helping apprentices achieve their goals. I know the apprentices have enjoyed attending our specialist training centre in Accrington and learning new skills, and I’ve no doubt that the relationship between JSJ UK and NLTG will continue to flourish.”