North Lancs Training Group (NLTG) is training 500 furniture industry employees in the use of woodworking machinery to help address skills shortages in the sector.

Around 216 of the NVQ apprentices learning at NLTG’s Accrington-based Centre of Vocational Excellence are on the British Furniture Manufacturers‘ Association training programme.

The centre features 20 SCM machines worth about £200,000 and a specialist tool room for teaching trainees all aspects of tooling, including cutter design and saw sharpening.

It was set up to address skills shortages identified by the research paper Furniture, Furnishing and Interiors National Training Organisation Skills Foresight 2003, which says 35% of industry employees are over 45 years of age.