For the past week I have been running a poll via my Twitter account asking the industry what it thought was the biggest problem facing the sector right now. There are a number of fundamental points we have to tackle right now, all of which could pose a huge threat to the entire industry.

The poll has now closed, and the results were pretty close.

Question and answer

This was the question posed to people over the past week, and the answers they gave via their votes:

I’m pleased to see that a no-deal Brexit isn’t that much on the industry’s radar. Other industry polls have reflected the “meh” nature of the hype surrounding it, which seems to have come through in this poll.

It was very close though between the two issues I thought might garner the most votes, with the skils crisis just coming out on top, pipping service and quality problems to top spot.

The fact our industry’s “green image” got so few votes only tells me that we have a huge amount to do if we are to really take the social change that is going on out there seriously. I maintain my view that if our industry doesn’t get to grips with demonstrating that we can operate sustainably, then the PVCu sector specifically could be at risk of some serious public backlash, even though in the main it would be undeserved.

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Hand in hand

The fact that the skills gap and service/quality issues have come out so far in front and so close demonstrate that the two issues are interlinked. We have known for far too long that our industry, as well as wider construction, are woefully understaffed and lacking fresh talent. As a result, we have been asking more and more of the workforce that is left, expecting them to learn more, do more, often with less time and little extra financial reward.

It doesn’t take a genius to then figure out that a depleted workforce isn’t going to produce great work. That is why over the past few years we have seen a clear and steady rise in the levels of complaints about customer service and product quality in our industry. How do we expect high levels of both if we can’t even attract enough new people to the industry to fill the gaps left by those who are leaving it?

This isn’t the place to pour over the obvious, I have written enough about these two particular problems in the past plenty of times, I feel I would be simply repeating myself. But perhaps it is worth reminding ourselves that if the situation doesn’t turn around, we’re going to be trapped in a cycle of these two issues for years to come.

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