A chat with an industry friend of mine inspired this post. It was about fitters and where to find them. Turns out it’s not the easiest job in the world to find a fitter these days. Who knew?
We agreed that the talent pool of available fitters in our industry is actually more like a talent bath, soon to become a talent bowl. There seems to be less and less skilled workers out there available to installers who are wishing to grow and push on.
I won’t mention this person’s name or the company they work for as I don’t want to compromise them in any way, but their offering to potential new fitters was a gold mine. Employed for a start on PAYE, van provided, tools provided and yearly wage comfortably above the UK average. So literally everything paid for, just turn up, fit, go home. And yet this friend of mine can’t find the people to fill that position. Madness.
But, I think it might be the right approach. If installers want to attract the best people to their companies, their offering needs to be good.
There is no such thing as a 100% secure job in this world. But an employed position is more secure than a self-employed position in the window and door industry. I applaud my mate for offering the package that they do for their future fitters. If I was an installer looking for work or a change of company that would be a very good deal for me.
We all know that our industry has a severe shortage of skilled people that is only getting worse. In fact I don’t think we’re that far away from full blown break down. The country has been promised a swathe of three million new apprentices, but even if that does happen, how likely is it that a big enough proportion are going to come the window industry’s way? Probably not that many, we’re not the most attractive prospect historically.
That is why I think installation companies offering more quality employed positions might be a good way to attract new people to our sector. I understand that this is going to cost installers more. PAYE costs. Vans cost. Tools cost. Insurance cost. And so on and so on. That is why self-employed installers have been cheaper for installers. They generally bring their own van, tools, insurance etc. But these are not secure positions. When the work dries up they have to move on elsewhere.
You don’t build company loyalty that way, not often at least anyway. By offering fitters paid positions, with vans, tools and insurance provided, you show them that they become a true member of your company, looked after with the same perks as everyone else. All they need to do is focus 100% on the job in hand and do some blinding work, knowing they’re going home with guaranteed pay and job security.
Radical change needed
I personally don’t believe the Government is going to come anywhere close to their three million apprentice target. Even if we only get a third of that, I don’t think the window industry is going to get enough of the wedge to fill the positions many of us badly need. So we’re going to need to get creative if we’re going to attract the skilled labour we need.
Employment should be one of those major changes. And it really would be a major change. I would hazard a guess that most installation companies still use self-employed fitters. You can see why. They’re adaptable and expendable depending on the levels of work. Installers can hire and fire at will to a point. This has gone on for years and is hasn’t really created an impression of longevity within our sector.
I think we are due for a complete change as to how the installation sector in fenestration views employment and fitters. If we are to attract a new generation of people, and especially in an age where people expect at least some level of job security, employment of fitters must now be considered.
Question is, are installers ready to put their hands in the pockets and approach employment of fitters in a different way in bid to attract the better talent? My bet is no. But I could be wrong!