Association addresses skills development in the flooring industry

by Tania Wannenburg

FITA is making great strides in registering skilled artisans in SA & working towards solutions for the skills shortage in flooring.

Since its inception in 2014, the Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA) has seen incredible transformation and exciting developments take place and it has overcome several challenges that initially saw the association leap into unchartered waters.

FLOORS in Africa magazine spoke to Patty Vermaak, FITA Training Director, to gain greater insight into these challenges, discuss the association’s role within the flooring industry and what can be expected from them going forward.

1.    Tell us about FITA’s progression since its formation to date?
The formation of FITA was initially met with scepticism and rejection. I’ve learnt to thrive on rejection and become immune to the word ‘no’. FITA is making a positive difference in the lives of men and women in this country and I’m excited to be part of it.

2.    Are there any unique challenges that FITA had to overcome?
Not unique, rather practical. While CETA has been more than generous in providing us with discretionary grants for specific projects, they do not assist us with administration and day to day expenses. Our growth has been phenomenal and we need a steady stream of income to function at optimum level. Any sponsorship offers will be gratefully accepted and in addition, contributions to FITA have benefits for BEE scorecards and are tax deductible.

3.    Are there any current achievements that FITA would like to highlight? For example, growth of number of students, support from industry etc.
We are in the process of carrying out Recognition of Prior Learning on 150 existing installers and we have 22 certified learners looking for full time employment at the end of June. We are working closely with South African vinyl leaders to create a vinyl unit standard which will form part of the National Certificate: Installation of Floor Coverings. The MBA North initiative forming a Flooring Chamber fits perfectly into all that we are working towards and we fully support Dr Ivor Blumenthal’s vision.

4.    How does FITA contribute to the flooring industry?
FITA has been instrumental in bringing a sense of purpose and unity to an extremely fragmented industry. We have created awareness of the skills crisis that our industry faces and we are offering practical solutions. We have a dream, and we will commit to this dream until we succeed in turning it into a reality.

5.    What does the future look like for FITA?
Our vision to address skills development and establish a register of certified artisans is a good strategy for making a better future. Unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so. We have no room for retreat, this is vital to the flooring industry.
We are proud to serve as media partner to an association such as FITA who is dedicated to making an active and practical difference to the flooring industry and those individuals who form part of it.

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