A key independent government advisory body, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) sought the views of industry at the end of 2018 about the migration challenges affecting recruitment of skilled workers. The GGF responded to the consultation on behalf of the Glass and Glazing sector.
In the response, the GGF highlighted the shortage of skilled installers (particularly fire-resistant glazing installers), surveyors and manufacturers, and argued for the apprenticeships policy to be changed to support recruitment across the sector.
The Glass and Glazing sector’s skills crisis is rooted in three separate problems.
- Training for entry level staff is disproportionately expensive for small businesses, which make up the majority of firms in our industry. This means experienced installers and surveyors have fewer opportunities to pass their skills on to new recruits.
- Lack of awareness among school leavers about the opportunities available within the sector. As a result, school leavers are more likely to choose careers in higher-profile related disciplines such as bricklaying or plumbing.
- Uncertainty around Brexit for skilled workers from overseas has led to increasing numbers of them choosing to return to their country of origin.
The GGF also highlighted that Trailblazer Apprenticeships are imperfect because apprentices cannot currently be classed as ‘self-employed’.
Kevin Buckley, GGF Group Chief Executive commented, “In the response, we called for apprenticeship policy reform and set out the measures we support for upskilling and recruitment across the sector including; a new strategy to raise visibility of the sector among school leavers, collaboration with firms around Trailblazer Apprenticeships and new competency training programmes for members and non-members.
It’s clear that a sustainable pipeline of skilled workers is crucial to the delivery of the Government’s plan to build one million new houses by 2020. A rough estimate suggests that this could require 10.5 million installations for new-build and retro-fit combined in the near future. This underscores the importance of the sector to the UK’s housing market, and we hope the MAC will recognise this and urge Government to take action.”