Mick Clayton CEO of GQA leading supplier of qualifications to the industry raises concerns about a shortage of skills and a lack of new young people coming into our industry.

It is an alarming and an actual fact – some hands on industries, construction for example – are being damaged by a lack of available skills.  I sincerely hope that our industry is not going to be next.

Like many of you, I keep hearing that we need to find a way to bring new people into the industry as the age profile across it continues to increase.  It is almost a reflection of society in the UK I guess where, by common consent, we have got an ‘ageing population’.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that the glazing industry is past it – far from it – it remains vibrant, full of great products, new innovations, and the opportunity for career longevity; but one thing that does concern me is the lack of young people coming into it as the first step on their career path – and the lack of young people transferring into it from other industries.

Why does our industry not automatically attract young people?

Don’t school leavers see our industry as a viable career? Is it perhaps because as an industry there hasn’t been the employer backing for the available structured qualifications and formal training – instead preferring to go for a less formal hands-on approach?

Has the lack of qualification implementation offered by the industry become detrimental to attracting new blood?  Indeed as an industry do we understand what today’s young people value in terms of career-path development and are we offering it?

The truth is I don’t know the answer.  What I do know is this; investment in people is proven to deliver long term benefits to the employer and the employee.  Better training leads to better motivated staff – staff who are better able and better skilled to carry out their roles, and a reduced staff turnover. Ultimately this should translate into the delivery of better quality and service to the end user which of course should in turn bring more business.

We need to attract young people and develop their skills

As many of you know, we here at GQA are passionate about people development and recognition, and our qualifications allied to the introduction of the MTCs – Minimum Technical Competencies – should be the perfect opportunity for the industry to progress and ultimately to attract young people to our industry who will then very much view it as a career rather than just a job – there is a distinction.

I firmly believe that if the industry invests in training it will get its rewards.

New initiative from the industry to develop skills

In the very near future we are going to be talking to key players in the industry about forming partnerships and developing programmes to help young entrants to our industry to learn; we want to engage companies to become ambassadors for training and the development of skills – maybe to provide facilities in the shape of Learning Pods, to enable people to be trained off the job and not just on it.

I want to see if we can offer a new initiative as an industry which is as vibrant and attractive as the industry itself, a scheme where an apprentice could start with a two week block introduction programme hosted by an Ambassador, followed by day-release training, where the employer-developed programme will educate about the industry, about products and materials, about the job that he or she is going to do; about Building Regulations and the impact of Health and Safety as essential learning, with practical activities at the heart of the day-release, actual hands-on in a learning environment – honing practical skills.

I see this as potentially a two-year programme, a real structured learning experience which would give anyone a good start into any practical industry; with the learning process continuing through work.

What would all this give us? In my view it would give us an attractive and effective young person’s programme into the industry, an on-going practical and knowledge learning programme, a modern and up-to-date workforce,  Government/Competent  Person Scheme compliance, quality installation and service bringing enhanced customer satisfaction levels.

Maybe the ‘Learning Pod’ idea is feasible and we could use this as the basis for an employer led Trailblazer project aimed at designing apprenticeship standards and assessment for our industry – if this is of interest to you then get in touch with us – info@gqaqualifications.com / 01142 720033 – we will be starting industry discussions soon.