Monday, October 16, 2017
Building industry in crisis: will we have enough skilled plumbers to go around
Year by year, the labour shortage in the skilled trades becomes more prevalent. Yet with the construction industry at an all-time high, the need for experienced plumbers, electricians, welders and masons has never been more acute. There seems to be a disconnect. And it’s an industry-wide problem. Wavin explores why there is such a gap in vocational training and what we can do to turn it around.
In London, we have seen the extraordinary statistic that one in three of the largest construction companies is having to turn down bidding opportunities due to a shortage of skilled labour.Mark Cahill , managing director of Manpower Group UK
Skilled labour shortage – in a nutshell
Simply put, the economic crisis in Europe caused many skilled workers to lose their jobs and, on top of that, some of the more seasoned tradesmen and women are now reaching retirement age. Students appear to be less inclined (and even discouraged) to go to vocational schools. In its Special Eurobarometer Report on attitudes towards Vocational Education and Training (VET), the European Commission found that “In spite of the perceived benefits of VET, a relative majority of respondents say that they would recommend general secondary or higher education to a young person who is finishing compulsory education rather than VET, by a margin of 34% to 32%.” So, if we want to encourage young people to become trade apprentices, there must be an attitude adjustment. There is skill to being a plumber or an electrician. These trades are not only valuable to the construction industry as a whole – they are essential.
Promoting the trades – a collaborative effort
The responsibility for promoting the skilled trades should not only rest upon the shoulders of government and educational institutions, but also on the construction industry as a whole. At Wavin, we believe that industry-wide collaboration is needed to bridge the increasing gap in skilled tradespeople in Europe.
In addition to teaching pupils about the numerous opportunities available withing the construction sector from a young age, such programmes enable qualified tradespeople to offer practical training on products and installation. Not only does this demonstrate the practicalities of a given trade, it also engages students more and increase their willingness to get involved.Tim Wootton , technical services manager at Wavin UK
- The job itself is rewarding
- Making customers happy
- Flexible hours
- Plentiful work
And there’s something to be said about the value of mentoring. What better way to encourage a young person to pick up a vocational trade than by taking him or her under your wing. By giving students the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a plumber, they will quickly learn that there are so many other facets to this vocation than just the technical skills. The satisfaction of providing solutions to problems and seeing the smile of relief and happiness on a customer’s face – these are some of the perks of the trade. It’s a rewarding career that is very much in demand.
Join Wavin in promoting the trades. Here’s to a whole new generation of plumbers!
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We have a few motivational ideas ourselves, so stay tuned.