With the average age of a worker in the construction industry 49, and a recent study revealing that 14-19-year-olds scored the industry just 4/10 for attractiveness, bringing new blood into the sector has never been more challenging.
Considering that a skills shortage is one of the major barriers to growth in the fenestration industry, this is something that needs to be urgently addressed to safeguard its future.
PVCu windows and doors manufacturer Shelforce regularly provides hands-on training for school children at its factory in Erdington, Birmingham.
And Howard Trotter, Shelforce’s Business Manager, is in no doubt that initiatives to bring youngsters through the doors to provide a glimpse of what goes on will open young people’s eyes.
“Attracting more young people and diversity into the industry is hugely important to tackling the skills shortage and we need to take responsibility for this as an industry,” said Howard, who spoke at this year’s Glazing Summit on the subject.
“Young people often see the industry as dirty, low paid, ‘outdoorsy’ and for people who don’t go to college and we need to change this perception.
“We need to the message out to young people and their parents that it’s a highly-skilled industry, that there are plenty of opportunities that young people might not realise, such as sales and marketing roles.
“That it offers amazing opportunities for personal development and a career. After all, there’s always going to be a demand for windows and doors.”
The company is set to open a dedicated training facility at their factory to provide regular work experience placements for students from nearby schools, including special needs schools.
In fact, Shelforce invited four children from a local autistic school to their headquarters and they got hands-on experience by helping to set a window and take part in a competition to dress a window.
“It’s all about engagement and getting young people through the door,” added Howard. “Our training room will provide the perfect space to welcome students work experience and work placements.
“By offering regular work experience placements, we want to help young adults of all abilities take their first steps into the workplace.”
Shelforce has a rich history of providing high quality products to local authority building projects, including schools.
And on one such project for Chivenor Primary School in Birmingham, some of the children from the school even helped make the windows during a work experience programme run by Shelforce.