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Commercial Flooring News

Training More Vital Than Ever

THE economic recovery and growth in employment are, of course, to be welcomed, but they are not the biggest news as the Government would like us to believe. There are other new statistics which give serious cause for concern, and which have virtually been passed over by the national headlines writers.
Specifically, the UK’s productivity gap with other major developed countries is widening alarmingly. International comparisons released just over a month ago by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that output per hour worked in the UK is a shocking 21% lower than the average for the other six members of the G7 – the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada.
Even worse, productivity in the US, Germany and France is a staggering 30% higher than the UK. Clearly, a number of people in the UK are not up to handle the jobs they are employed to perform. The reason is obviously insufficient training or the complete lack of it.
Those productivity figures are not surprising given the international report released just before last Christmas showing that school leavers in England have lower levels of basic skills and literacy than their grandparents and now perform worse than young people in almost every other developed nation.
Unlike most of our major trading partners, the UK has traditionally lacked a focus on vocational education and training. In a nutshell, this country has failed to invest sufficiently in the next generation of workers. For example, we once had a world beating manufacturing sector, which has now mostly disappeared and gone not west, but east!
The construction industry, however, is one area where Britain is still a global leader. The argument for encouraging young people to go into construction, including floorlaying, never seems to excite politicians. There was a deafening silence from the Government following the latest CITB Construction Skills Network survey revealing that merely to keep pace with demand, the construction sector needs over 36,000 new recruits annually.
The effects of the skills shortage are already becoming apparent. Only last month, the latest NSCC quarterly state of trade survey revealed a growing number of specialist contractors are unable to bid for certain contracts because they don’t have access to qualified manpower.
Even the flooring sector on its own will need over 2,400 additional floorlayers by 2018, according to the CITB. That’s an average requirement of 6,000 new floorlayers a year, fewer than the total number currently undertaking formal flooring apprenticeships, college courses, manufacturer training, and courses run by flooring training organisations such as FITA.
Everyone has to do their bit. Individual flooring contractors can no longer make excuses for not investing more in training. Failure to do so will ultimately harm their businesses. It is as simple as that.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.