It was proposed to me the other night by a friend of mine on Twitter that perhaps systems companies had a big role to play when it comes to attracting school leavers and young people to the fenestration industry. I very much agreed. It is well known we face an acute shortage of youth and young people in our industry and something really does need to be done.

This same person also told me that they had to turn work away as they cannot find enough of the right people to install the work. Still think the skills shortage is all hype?

Reaching out to school leavers

As I sat pondering the issue, it did occur to me that there has been a company who has started to reach out to young people just as they are leaving education:

It’s great to see a company the size of VEKA going out to colleges to talk to the next working generation about a career in the UK fenestration market. Hopefully their visit showed a few young people that our industry is far more than what our unbalanced reputation suggests.

Why syscos?

But why should it be up to the systems companies of our industry to take up the baton? Why not fabricators and installers?

In an ideal world we should all be working together to attracts great young skilled people to our sector. However in reality it’s the companies with the biggest staff resources, funds and marketing departments who will make a better job of showing school leavers a fenestration career is a good one to have. These tend to be the systems companies and the super fabricators with resources and people to pour into this sort of thing.

Still, there are plenty of systems companies operating in the UK; Residence 9, The VEKA UK Group, REHAU, Kommerling, Liniar, Smarts, AluK, Synseal to name just a few. These are all very large organisations with links to all other areas of the glazing supply chain, including fabricators, installers, IGU manufacturers, the big glass houses, hardware suppliers and so on. There is no better company to talk to school leavers about working in fenestration.

A pressing urgency

There has been more than one person in recent months tell me they have struggled to find enough skilled people to carry out work they have signed up. The skills shortage is beginning to bite I feel and this is only the start.

It’s going to put the strain on installers as they try to balance what work they take on versus the qualified man power to actually be able to install it. If installers have to start turning away work then this is going to have an effect on fabricators too.

We have many issues to tackle across our industry, and I’m sure that it feels like we’re all being pulled in different directions much of the time. But focus really does have to be given to address this issue as soon as we can. If the industry’s systems companies started a dedicated campaign to bring youth and skilled workers into our industry, I think that could really give us the injection we need.

Finally, I’ll leave you all with this question: given that MTCs and NVQs are very much part of our framework now, how easy do you think it’s going to be to find extra qualified window and door installers to install all those weeks worth of work you’re signing up?

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