If ever there was a person best placed to comment on issues of people within the UK window and door sector is is Mick Clayton of GQA Qualifications. He is the CEO and his company is the leading provider of qualifications to the window and door industry. He is in touch with a huge network of training centres up and down the UK, with each of those training centres having their own network of installers that they work with. If he says he’s worried, we should take him seriously.
“There is no upside”
There is no doubting that the industry is still enjoying favourable trading conditions. In fact I rarely see anything negative about levels of business. Whilst this is a good thing, the issue Mick addresses in a great post on MyTradeTV is the lack of installers. This is something that I have addressed here on DGB more than once, with the lack of youth a particular bug bear of mine.
During his post, it was this paragraph that stood out in particular for me:
There is no upside to this at all; it is not only individual companies which will suffer – the industry as a whole will suffer. As installers retire and new fitters don’t come through the industry will start to decline; without the qualified, experienced fitter being around to mentor and train newcomers who have a genuine interest in the industry there will inevitably be an increase in installation problems leading to costly rectification work and reputational damage for the industry. Consumers will inevitably spend their money in other home improvement sectors before they think about windows and doors.
He’s not wrong. With experienced fitters leaving the industry and very few taking their place, the industry’s skill set is becoming increasingly limited as the years roll on.
He goes on:
What we need to do is to educate young people to the fact that the window industry is a great place to be, an industry where there are great rewards and where with the right commitment from employers they can undertake genuine apprenticeships and learning which will stand them in good stead for later in life.
Read Mick Clayton’s full post on MyTradeTV
Time running out
The industry isn’t going to slow down over the coming years. I know the latest Palmer Market Research report says otherwise, but I believe that’s overly negative. For the rest of this decade the industry is going to speed up in innovation. It is going to get better at attracting customers. Installation levels will increase.
Yet I see no concrete moves to make any changes which will try to attract new installers to the industry. The problems that we already know are there will continue to get worse. Industry standards will continue to fall. Lead times will continue to increase. All combined means the industry will find it harder and harder to service customers with reasonable ease.
Time is running out to turn things around. I fear we are sleep walking into a crisis, and I believe Mick thinks the same.
Mick is so right but there are so many issues here outside of qualifications or training. The first is the reputation of the “double glazing” industry as a whole. Until we can shake off the wider public perception of double glazing, no young person or any older person encouraging their kids to acquire a skill will consider our industry. Of course the vast majority of us run excellent businesses with a great reputation, customer service and a simple wish to do the best we can for our customers but unfortunately the general image of double glazing hinders this. There are… Read more »
But then again, if you read this story, there may be a lot of money to be made in future years from a skills shortage http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2826686/Skilled-workers-pay-soars-four-times-faster-inflation-Construction-industry-leading-way-ending-squeeze-salaries.html
A very good post. Mick raises many good points, none of them are new to any of us. We know what the issues are – individual companies have to do what is right for their own company and market place – do you not think we sit around waiting for some one to wave a magic wand to solve our problems. Having said all that, The GGF are working incredibly hard ( no, not just for their members but the whole industry) and have set up their own training company. In addition there has recently been set up a ‘super… Read more »
Lets be realistic , we all know what it needs to be a skilled window fitter , but as trades go , is it actually recognised as such? Window fitters are often seen as half a step up from a good labourer, I don’t think esteem comes as part of the package, it is money that calls the tune . Pay well and you might encourage more staff , the drive to the lowest price squeezes everyone and deters interest in the job. I know in a previous post DGB was trying to get GGF to encourage graduates and training… Read more »