There’s a debate as to the best method in which to attract more young people and talented people to the UK fenestration sector. Career progression, inclusivity, rewarding work and more. All gallant and justified arguments.
But there’s one thing I think we’re blindly missing from the debate and that is money. It’s time to talk turkey.
People of a certain vintage were taught not to talk about money. My parents were taught the same thing to a certain extent. My demographic and younger, however, are getting more and more used to talking about money. What we earn, what we spend, how much we spend. The problem is, because there isn’t a huge number of people my age in this sector, the subject of money never really comes up when the discussion around the skills gap comes up.
This has to change. If you’re a young person, or a person with skills and you’re looking for a new career, then you’re going to want to know that a move to the fenestration sector is going to be worth it. Yes, job satisfaction is important here, and no amount of money could ever replace happiness in a profession. But if you’re starting out in life and looking for a job that will help you grow into adult life, then you will want to know if that job is going to pay.
Money matters, whether we like that idea or not. It matters in every job and people tend to be happier if they know that the hard work they are putting in is going to give them a decent wage in return. The good news is that UK fenestration is a relatively well-paid industry. Especially since the pandemic. The shortage of labour has meant wages of installers have gone up quite markedly over the last 12 months. You only need to look on some of the Facebook forums to see how much companies are willing to pay fitters per door or window. At some of those wages, it would be very easy to walk away at the end of each week with more than £1000. Now I would say that is a very good wage indeed.
The truth of the matter is that UK fenestration actually pays quite well across most job roles. Installing yes, but also sales roles, admin roles, drivers, MDs and CEOs, even self-employed and freelance jobs. For the various faults this industry has, I don’t believe pay has ever been one of them. Which makes that one of our strongest tools in our toolbox with which to attract the right people to this sector. We just need to actually talk about it and make it more obvious to the outside world!
Wider economic competition
There is another more fundamental reason why we have to start talking about money, and that is because as the economy reopens and people go back to finding jobs, there is already a massive increase in competition from other sectors to attract workers. We read earlier this week that there were nearly one million job vacancies in the UK at the moment. This is a record. And these are positions in many other different sectors.
We continue to face an acute skills shortage which looks like it will only get worse as the years go on unless something changes. It means we have to fight for the attention of those looking for work, and as I have stated above, one of our biggest advantages is that this is a pretty well-paid sector. If we are going to win out above other sectors we have to start using our pay as an advantage.
Good rates of pay have to be coupled with career progression and job satisfaction. The other advantage we have as a sector is that job progression in UK fenestration is pretty good. In my time working in this sector I have witnessed many friends and colleagues make their way up the ladder. I have seen the creation of new businesses, and the acquisition of others. With hard work and determination, it is quite possible to make your way to the top in this sector. Something else our industry should be making more of a point of.
As fenestration begins to compete with other sectors to attract youth and skilled workers, we have to shout louder about the advantages our industry has, and that is money. We need to stop being shy about it and become much more open and vocal about the opportunities that exist within this growing industry and show people that they can make a very good living out of windows and doors.
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