The Road to Sustainability Series – Putting young talent at the heart of our business

Putting young talent at the heart of our business

As a mentee of Terence Conran in the 1980’s, Roger Lewis was enveloped by a career-shaping opportunity that would be an enduring influence on his design ethic and vision.

The experience also cemented Lewis’ belief that great people are at the heart of great businesses.

Thirty years after Lewis founded the company, nurturing talent and those exploring careers in the furniture manufacturing industry remains core to Roger Lewis’ values.

In 2020 it launched its first apprenticeship scheme, training young people keen to join the industry.

The scheme is available to young people who live locally aged from 18 years upwards and is run in conjunction with specialists WEBS Training.

The structure enables apprentices to study for one-and-a-half years in modern upholstery with their time is split between Roger Lewis’ new facilities and onsite training for five weeks per year at WEBS’ college in Nottingham.

During the apprenticeship programme, attendees use a wide range of techniques and complete a practical project.

Training covers all areas of furniture manufacturing with a focus on creating practical and bespoke furniture using both traditional and modern approaches.

Joining an inclusive and supporting culture

The aim is to invest in “new, raw talent to join us and become the future of our business”. From day one, apprentices get to work on special projects as well as live jobs, giving them the confidence to develop their skills alongside some of the most skilled makers across departments.

Mollie-Kate Richard, Apprentice Programme Manager at Roger Lewis, explains: “We are proud of our culture where exceptional, committed people can thrive to improve, both personally and professionally. Our business successes give all of our team the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities and share skills.”

Marc, our Managing Director believes the company’s move to a new state-of-the-art factory in November will further enhance its culture. Designed on the principle of creating zero-landfill waste, apprentices will help contribute to the company’s sustainability efforts. Even the milk used for the tea round is plastic-free. “We have weekly milk deliveries from nearby Tytherington Farm,” says Marc. “They deliver 5-litre milk churns to our door and collect the empty churns, eliminating plastic waste.”

Angelica’s story

Angelica Baines joined the business as an upholstery apprentice in September.

“I started my apprenticeship three months ago and I’m really enjoying it. Getting to know the team and understand their ways of working has been a brilliant experience.

“Phil Hussey, the Upholstery Team Lead and my mentor at Roger Lewis, has been really helpful and supportive as I’ve found my feet. Everyone from all areas of the business, have made me feel like part of the team.
“The hands-on training has really helped me develop and made me much more confident in the skills I’m learning.

“It’s great to gain experience of the whole business and follow the entire process from start to finish. Starting with a blank canvas and turning it into a piece of furniture people want to buy feels pretty amazing. I’m getting to grips with the various collections and I’m excited to keep progressing and learning.”

If you’re interested in joining our apprentice scheme, get in touch to arrange a chat

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