My Furniture Career is powered by The Furniture Makers’ Company, the City of London livery company and charity for the furnishing industry.
Our role is to sustain a thriving British furnishing industry with a talented workforce delivering high-quality products, which supports those in need from within its ranks and those who have served it in the past.
“The vocational route is evolving and becoming more popular and relevant to students and employers”
For many students A levels are the perfect route to higher education in academic subjects such as Medicine, Chemistry, or Engineering as the three or four subjects they choose align well with universities expectations.
However, many students I have met see themselves working in the creative industries find that they struggle to find three subjects that align with their career hopes, or, they already have a good idea of what they would like to do in the creative industries and would like to get stuck in right away.
To some people in the UK, the idea of vocational qualifications is that of an inferior education, one that kids do if they aren’t bright enough to do A Levels. This might be a hang-up from the blue collar / white collar distinction of the last century, and this is an attitude I remember during my education.
However, when my work in the furniture manufacturing industry took me to work in Sweden and Germany, I was struck by the high level of education of my colleagues that had been through a very different, technical and vocational education path to me. This gave me a respect for the vocational education route that I still very much hold as a teacher in the Further Education sector.
The courses and curriculum that colleges like Morley offer, challenges students in a way that is closely related to way they will work in the creative industries, learning skills such as writing briefs, managing projects, along with technical skills of research, making and drawing.
While there are many issues with the education system in the UK, a positive trend is that the vocational route is evolving and becoming more popular and relevant to students and employers. It’s a long journey, but in my opinion going in the right direction.
Alexander Gifford is Programme Area Manager 3D Design at Morley College London with extensive experience in the furniture industry as both a designer and brand strategist.
Find out what a role in the UK furniture and furnishing industry has to offer by reading the inspirational stories and achievements of people who are successfully forging careers in the sector.