In this webinar, we were delighted to welcome Sean Sutcliffe, Co-Founder and MD of Benchmark.
Sean shares the experience his business has gained running apprenticeship schemes in their business. Since they took on their first apprentice in 1987 they have recruited and trained over 50 apprentices from the local community who have qualified in cabinet making and wood machining.
Benchmark’s furniture is made by master craftsmen in their own workshops in West Berkshire. Since launching in 1983, they have grown to become one of the leading and most technically advanced furniture companies in the country, employing a team of 70 craftsmen and designers across two workshops in West Berkshire and Dorset. They make and sell their own furniture collection and work with many of the world’s top architects and designers.
More than half of the apprentices are still with the company and with further training and mentoring have gone on to senior positions including workshop and production management.
The business took a stance on tropical timbers and endangered species right from the start. Their approach to sustainability is built into everything they do and they continually make every effort to develop their business in a responsible and sustainable way. That includes making furniture that has lasting value that will be kept and passed on to future generations.
In 2007, Benchmark was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category, the first furniture maker to win this prestigious award.
Also joining the webinar was Matt Garvey, MD of the West Berkshire Training Consortium, the training organisation that trains Benchmark’s apprentices. Matt answer questions businesses had about apprenticeships, such as funding, frameworks and the practicalities.
We were also delighted to also welcome Jane Langley, Founder of Blue Patch, to the webinar. Jane asked questions that were submitted by businesses on the Blue Patch hub, a catalogue of British made products and services with a sustainability edge.