British Furniture Manufacturers

Skill shortages drive big jump in furniture production wages

14 December 2021

Between December 2019 and December 2021, production wages in the furniture industry have risen on average by 12.7% according to BFM’s latest survey, which covers average hourly rates in 23 job roles.  In 2021. nearly half of respondents awarded pay rises of 5% or more and 40% intend to do this in 2022.

This, in BFM’s view, is driven largely by skill shortages. In October this year, the BFM’s Furniture Trade Survey found that 76% of respondents suffered from skill shortages, with one-quarter stating that the lack of staff was significant or severe.  

The wages survey reveals that in 2021, the normal date for applying a wage rise was often deferred, and in some cases more that one award was made.   For example, in 2021. 15% of companies increased wages in January. In 2022, the usual practice returns, with 46% reporting this as the next date for implementing a pay rise.  

The major factors limiting the ability to increase wages were material price rises and margins.

The BFM survey also looked at standard hours, holidays, shift work and union recognition.

Occupations covered include: Foremen, Manual Wood Machinists, CNC Machinists, Polishers, Frame Makers, Upholsterers, Assemblers, Cabinet Makers, Sewers, Cutters, Cushion Fillers, Labourers, Packers, HGV drivers, non-HGV Drivers, Stores/Warehouse, Maintenance, Quality Controllers, CAD Operators, Divan Makers, Mattress Makers and Product Development. The survey looks separately at those on a basic wage and those that work under payment by results schemes.  The survey also distinguishes between companies in the North and South of the country.

View the survey here

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