GQA Qualifications Blog

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Let me just qualify something....

Let me just qualify something…..68% of the industry believes we have a problem attracting young talent to the industry

86% believe that employers offering more training and qualifications would help to attract young talent, whilst 96% believe that better qualified employees can add value to a business. At the same time only 23% are aware that there are over 25 industry specific qualifications already available covering everything from basic industry knowledge to façade technology, from fabrication to warehousing, and from surveying to installation.

These are the headlines from a survey carried out at the FIT Show on behalf of GQA, our industry’s qualifications awarding body; CEO Mick Clayton who commissioned the survey digs deeper into the findings.

An inability to attract young people is not a problem exclusive to the fenestration industry, but it does appear to be more pronounced than in some others.  The population is changing in every regard, and what might have seemed a really attractive industry to previous generations is now having to compete with other more ‘sexy’ offerings which fuel the imagination of our younger population more readily.

It is not to say that the industry is not attracting young talent at all to what remains a really fantastic career path – you only have to look at the competitors in the Master Fitter Challenge which we ran at the FIT Show to see that there is still a real energy amongst the young for our industry.  There are just not enough of them.

I have been thinking this for quite some time, and it is why as GQA we are in discussions with regards to investment in learning materials and physical training facilities – learning pods – to support the work of the 70 centres throughout the UK who deliver GQA qualifications.  We want to make learning and qualifications hands on and meaningful.

I also want to make the point that learning and the take up of qualifications and other MTC solutions are already very much on the increase.

However, we cannot escape the fact that there is an issue, and it was not a surprise to me at all that 68% of those people who were asked the question ‘Do you think the industry has a potential problem with not enough young people coming into it to safeguard its future’ said yes.

I was more surprised – pleasantly so – that 86% of the same people believed that if employers offered more training and access to qualifications then the sector may well appear more attractive to those just beginning their careers.

I take huge encouragement from this; as I mentioned earlier we are seeing an increase in the uptake of qualifications and to know that this is the way the industry is thinking is really positive.  There are over 25 industry specific qualifications already in existence, and these are delivered through 70 approved centres covering the entirety of the United Kingdom.  It was disappointing to find that less than a quarter of the industry was aware of this and so it is a message we will continue to reinforce going forward.  If employers want learning and qualifications for their staff they can access it immediately, the infrastructure is already in place.

The biggest number from the survey was that 96% of employers believe that better qualified staff can add value to a business.  You might think that this is a classic ‘no-brainer’, but the fact is that this percentage represents a big shift in industry mind-set, and my gut tells me that if you had asked that question five years ago you would have got a very different response.

It is great that employers are thinking this way and understand that better qualified staff are better able to do their job, are better able to offer high quality products and service consistently, and as a direct consequence can contribute to a healthier bottom line for their employer.

This survey shows an emphatic understanding of this, what we need to do now is to get the message out to all within the industry that an infrastructure for qualifications and learning already exists, and to support them to use this to entice more young people into our industry and away from others.

Mick Clayton is CEO of GQA Qualifications @gqaquals #BigGreenQ

The survey was carried out by The Independent Ratings Company and the results are drawn from 386 fully completed questionnaires.