The recent news that renowned construction business Symm & Company has fallen into administration after over 200 years in business is a stark reminder that traditional skills need protecting and nurturing.
Both Symm, Artichoke and many others have been committed to employing and training generations of craftsmen and women, and investing in these skills further through formal apprenticeship schemes. While smaller, independent construction companies have often struggled to afford to run valuable apprenticeships, larger traditional builders like Symm took on this responsibility with great enthusiasm. The onus is now more on companies like ours to train the period joinery specialists of the future and to keep driving this investment to ensure the traditional joinery industry stays healthy and thrives.
As part of this commitment, we are delighted our free School of Furniture’s second year is about to begin.
The principle aim of our school is simple – to inspire young people who, through their experience of a narrowing and academically focused curriculum, may not have had the opportunity to explore their creative and practical potential. Our ambition is to highlight to these youngsters that there are a wide range of artisan skills and crafts which are highly valued and appreciated and from which a successful career can be carved. Kai Holmes who teaches Design Technology at the Kings of Wessex Academy is keen to show the students that, only a short walk from the school gate, is a thriving community of Britain’s best craftsmen and women who are making a living doing something they love and feel passionate about.
Artichoke Founder Bruce Hodgson said: “We are set to launch the second year of the Artichoke School of Furniture this year, with the aim of inspiring young people to consider a career as an artisan. We also run an apprenticeship scheme, for which we recruit on the basis of attitude rather than skill. This investment means we are able to continue to strive to achieve our company vision, which is that in 100 years, English design and craftsmanship continues to flourish.”
He continued: “The Symm administration is a great sadness, not just because many fine craftsmen and women have lost their jobs, but because a company that was a well-regarded supporter of heritage craftsmanship no longer exists to sponsor some of the next generation of joiners, carpenters, cabinet makers, stonemasons, decorators and plastering specialists.”
Our resolve to support these specialist skills is further strengthened by the knowledge there is client demand for exquisite period joinery and the supporting finishing trades typically found in large town and country houses. Artichoke hopes to continue inspiring the artisan workforce so that the industry may stay prosperous, and Britain’s future heritage is protected. We encourage our fellow specialists to do the same.