The lack of youth and skilled people in the window and door industry, as well as construction in general, is a well documented one. I have written many times before about our plight and the growing crisis of an industry that is severely understaffed and overworked. But the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but think that this is perhaps the new normal.

So is the skills gap here to stay?

A new normal

There’s no doubting that we’re a busy industry right now. We’re approaching our busiest few months of the year as the weather improves and home improvement season really steps up a gear. Furthermore, the industry is in generally good health right now and growth feels strong. It means fabricators, installers and systems companies too are all hands on deck trying to make the most of it.

But sometimes we all need help to cope with the extra business we’re all doing, so ideally we look to hire new people. Sounds easy doesn’t it. But it’s not, as many are finding out right now.

I think we may have reached a crunch point. The industry is looking to expand, especially in areas such as installation, surveying and fabrication. However there aren’t the pools of talent and young people to draw on in order to make this happen.

I see all too often, even just a few days ago, tweets from companies frustrated because they’re run ragged yet cannot find the fitters, surveyors, installation managers etc to help facilitate growth and help them manage their growing businesses. It’s nice to be growing, but it becomes a nightmare if that growth cannot be managed.

Is this a new normal?

Powerless measures

I’m afraid to say it, but unless something fundamentally changes in the way this country educates it’s young people, this will become the new normal. Window and door companies of all shapes and sizes, struggling to grow in a smooth and efficient way due to lack of skilled staff and youth.

Measures that have been promised are yet to materialise. The new apprenticeships scheme announced by the Government some time ago now, where 3 million new places were going to be created to help serve the various construction industries. Where is the progress on that? I’ve seen no movement on it, and I fear that issues such as the EU referendum, a stagnating economy, manufacturing in crisis, will take over and the policy on apprenticeships will go on the back burner.

The education system in this country at the moment is geared very much towards cramming as many people as possible through University and towards vocations such as IT, coding, web development, tech etc. All very important sectors, but the trades have been ignored for a very long time, and we’re now reaping what has been sown. After years of neglect, now growth and positivity has come back, we don’t have the people to facilitate it.

This current set up doesn’t look like changing any time soon. So, if you’re currently overworked, struggling to find spare time, can’t find qualified fitters for all your extra work, you’d better get used to it. This is the new normal.

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