The Flooring Industry Training Association (Fita) hopes to build the education level in the flooring industry and develop its artisan trade nationally by 2020.
The relatively new body has, over the past five years, been working closely with the Construction Education and Training Authority (Ceta) to set a plan in motion that will align the training of artisans in the flooring industry with that of the rest of the world.
Extensive research has been done into the 13 types of flooring applications so that each would have its own specific curriculum in a qualification that has been scoped and is with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations for registration. “This – when available in the near future – the association hopes, will bring with it the realisation that being a floor installer is not simply a job but rather a career with varying levels of qualification and prospects,” says Fita chairperson Tandy Coleman.
Fita has a firm goal to uplift the contracting and subcontracting industry through facilitated training for its tradespeople in either one specific flooring field or, should they choose, in all flooring as a broad trade. This will, consequently, create business and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The upskilling and the development of not only new, but also older workers in the industry, says Coleman, who has been on board since the initial conceptualisation of Fita in 2013. She notes that it seems that the older flooring experts are rather reluctant to part ways with their knowledge for fear of being replaced and thus skills are being lost as they retire.
This is also why Fita has implemented its recognition of prior learning assessment, where an existing qualification is registered with Ceta, which allows for the assessment of older workers who have not been formally trained to establish whether they have the necessary experience to qualify for an accreditation of the qualification.
Fita will also provide designations based on the scope of the new curriculum, an applicant would be assessed on a scorecard, whereby an employer would evaluate the applicant, submit that to Fita for consideration and, based on the results, would then be designated accordingly.
“We hope that this will uplift the workers, enabling them to be prouder of their jobs knowing they can achieve so much more through cooperating with Fita,” says Coleman.
She asserts that Fita aims to ensure that every person who wants to install flooring in South Africa has the opportunity to do so and has access to training, upskilling and the tools and equipment required to be a properly qualified installer.
The curriculum and testing material are being researched and established and, with the help and financial backing of the Ceta, Fita hopes that by 2020, the accreditation process will be fully implemented.
Fita communications manager Jenny Williams says the manufacturing space has in the past carried the cost of poor installation – regardless of whether the product was installed poorly or the product itself was of an inferior quality – to appease contractors and for the sake of keeping up good brand awareness.
“We hope that the association will help manufacturers to mitigate these costs through insisting that the contractors use only Fita-accredited installers,” she adds.
Fita has engaged with manufacturers to try to shift the momentum from a nongoverned sector to endorsing the association. There needs to be recourse when installation has been done incorrectly, and Williams insists it needs to filter from the manufacturers, suppliers, architects and building contractors to installers.
“Many contractors fly under the radar and hope that there are no implications when an installation fails,” says Williams.
“Once Fita is fully operational, it anticipates that installers will be held to a standard of fitting, as per the manufacturers installation standards. The industry will need to understand that there is now a body that will ensure that procedures are followed when it comes to working on a project in the future,” says Williams.