Whenever the subject of attracting youth to the fenestration industry comes up, I always hear this: “what can we do to get young people to come to the sector?” At the moment, the push to attract new talent has been focused on talking about our industry. And I don’t even think we’re getting that 100% right either.
For me, we’re getting the approach completely wrong. We have to stop thinking young people and those looking for a new career will come knocking on our door. We have to go to them.
The simple fact of the matter is that the people our fenestration industry desperately needs for the next 10-15 years are consuming nearly everything that influences them on social media platforms. Especially TikTok and Instagram. The school leavers that are approaching an age where they need to decide on what direction in life to go spend a huge amount of time on social media platforms. We know this. This is not new news. Yet, we’re doing absolutely nothing about it.
Whether you like it or not, the next generation that comes into this sector will not read newspapers, they’ll watch very little TV and won’t read many books either. At least not paperbacks. Almost everything is consumed via a screen because that is the world they have grown up in.
So why are we not using platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and others to reach out to young people to raise the profile of our sector? It seems like such an obvious thing to do yet no one is doing it. There are millions of kids on these platforms, the same kids that we’re going to need in the next few years.
We’re not going to improve and expand the image and profile of fenestration using traditional methods anymore. We have to go to the younger generations on the platforms THEY use, not ours, and show them all the positives of working in our sector can give them. We complain that we’re not finding enough young people, but the reality is that what we’re doing is wrong and we need to change that.
It’s time to put aside whatever reservations or misconceptions of new tech platforms we have aside and understand that it is our job to keep up with the generations that we need to attract. We have to stop thinking if we talk aimlessly loud enough and for long enough people will come. They won’t. It’s a competitive jobs market out there and we’re not even close as a sector to doing enough to make ourselves heard above other industries, because we’re not doing it right.
We need to be seeing fenestration companies up and down the supply chain embracing social media platforms. We need companies to be making videos showing what working in this sector is actually like, what the benefits are, what the opportunities will be if people put the hard work in. I don’t see any of that at the moment and we’re missing such an obvious way to get to the people we need to come work with us.
Tech kids are hardworking
I think I can assume that some of you who have just read the above have probably turned your noses up at the idea already. You’ll keep sticking with the old current methods and hope things get better from here. If so, fair enough. But for the companies who embrace new methods, who always evolve and try different things, they will be the ones that will be better off in this industry in ten years time. The ones who dismissed new tech platforms like social media when it comes to recruitment will be the ones left behind. Then again, that is our industry in a nutshell.
I also want to address the misconception that kids who base their life around their tech and phones are not hardworking. That is an unfair assumption and there is no way to prove such an accusation. There are tons of hardworking young people out there. They are just making their money in different ways. In fact, there will be a ton of young people out there right now who have built digital empires for themselves who are sat on a far bigger personal wealth than many who work in this sector. That doesn’t happen for free and it takes hard work and dedication to build such a position for yourself.
The last thing our industry wants to be doing is saying Gen Z kids are lazy and only care about their phones. If they think we believe that then there is no chance they’re going to consider a career in fenestration if we happen to land in front of them. We need to be engaging with them in a very obvious, public way, and in a very positive manner. But WE have to go to THEM. We have to be far more proactive than we are currently. We have to back words with actions. We need to be way more dynamic and turn up the professional image on the social media platforms young talent are on every day.
My other frustration that is linked to this is that we as a sector need to make a much bigger deal about what we do in general. Think of it this way. Every single building on planet earth has what we do: windows and doors. Think about that for a moment. Billions of buildings around the globe that will always require the one product that we make day in and day out. What a fantastic position to be in. Think of all the positive points about working in fenestration we can communicate to people. We have to do a much better job of talking about our sector and portraying it others.
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