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Wickes first ever female installation apprentices start new cohort on IWD

Published: 11 March 2021 - Sarah Mead

With the announcement earlier in the year of Wickes’ new Installation Apprenticeship scheme, we are pleased to announce that two female apprentices have joined the cohort that started yesterday. Fitting that it was March 8th, International Women’s’ Day. 


With new kitchen installations in demand, coupled with the recently identified skills gap of fewer Installers coming through, Wickes has taken the lead in launching its unique Installation apprenticeship scheme to help maintain the future supply of skilled tradespeople.

Abby Watkinson and Rachael Folds have chosen the challenge and want to break the glass ceiling in the installation world. Abby will be starting as a fitted furniture apprentice installer, a role typically associated with men due to the heavy lifting required and use of power tools. Abby says ‘Many women are not typically seen in these roles, something I want to change.’ Abby lives her life with the motto ‘you should strive for what it is you want to do while you have the chance because if you let an opportunity go by then it might not come round again and you will regret missing it’. 

Rachael Folds, is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings and breaking boundaries; previously worked as a granite and marble mason. Being the only woman on the shop floor often meant that she had to work twice as hard to prove herself. She became the first female Intermac CNC Stone Machine programmer in the United Kingdom at just 21!

Both Abby and Rachael are just beginning their training today and will be embarking on an 18-month programme, tapping into life and trade skills, together with mentoring support. 80% of time will be spent on site with their installer from the Wickes’ Approved Installer Network for kitchens. The other 20% will cover formal training which spans across seven block weeks with Nottingham-based WEBS Training Ltd focusing on the technical aspects of fitting a kitchen, behaviour, customer services and setting up your own business in order to provide a well-rounded and compelling local installation proposition for customers.

Tony Brown, Installations Director, at Wickes, said: “We're really proud to have Abby and Rachael joining the installer apprenticeship scheme, both from very different career backgrounds. We hope they are the first of many women to join the trade. Installation of kitchens is a very skilled job and we want to invest in people to help close any skills gap. There are many great careers to be had in this industry and opportunities for people in a sector that can be flexible around them or give them the opportunity to create a small business. I am really proud that we’re able to offer such a unique programme like this that appeals to men and women, we know the industry needs more skilled tradespeople and we hope this is just the beginning of a very successful and long running scheme.”

This is Wickes’ Installation apprenticeship scheme cohort two that have started today. The following six cohorts still have places available for applications. For more information on the Wickes Apprenticeship Scheme and for applications forms, visit



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