CPD – future proofing your business

As we approach uncertain futures in the manufacturing and flooring sectors, a multiskilled workforce is more important than ever, says Shaun Wadsworth.

IN my previous profession as an apprenticeship training officer and assessor, it was expected of me to provide 30 hours per year of continuing professional development (CPD) to prove I was enhancing my own skills and proficiency year-on-year.

This is a key factor in education and the first time I’d experienced needing to build on knowledge I already had or expanding past the limits of what I thought I needed to know.

During my time in training and assessment, I’ve constantly pushed for skilled workers to commit to their own learning by not only honing their skills day-to-day in their job role but to also embrace personal development by opening to new skills, techniques and methods of working.

As I now progress onto pastures new as training manager at the CFA the need for constant CPD follows me, and rightly so. At the moment, it’s easy to expand my knowledge of the flooring sector as my introduction and the starting point was June 2018.

I make new connections daily with industry professionals across the board from manufacturing to fitting. I meet attendees of courses and speak to them about their own CPD and what brings them on a course; this tends to range from simple reasons such as needing to know a certain skill to fit certain products or advancing their knowledge of an already developed area of their trade.

Now not all of this is purely for my own personal development, but also for the development of the CFA and Fita.

If I can understand why people attend the courses they do and why they like them, then those qualities can be replicated elsewhere. If I’m speaking to manufacturing technical staff about commercial courses that are being run, then the template can be used for other companies in the future.

Or if I’m speaking to a flooring contractor about upcoming jobs and shifts in the product then that information can be used to inform others. This is all to help increase the amount of training being implemented in the industry and hopefully helping to close the skills gap at the same time.

If there’s ever a chance to learn, then we as a trade should embrace that; some of the best tradespeople I’ve ever worked with or spoken to don’t rest on their laurels. They won’t sit back and say, ‘you cannot teach me anything new’.

The flooring industry is forever-evolving and when asking yourself about CPD, start with the basics. Ask: what development will help me improve? How can I achieve this? How do I put what I have learned into practice to ensure it’s enough?

There’s no point basing development around areas you’ll never get to exercise and sometimes the hardest part of CPD is finalising an area to focus on that has a substantial gain for the future.

In January this year, the Palmer Report was discussed and summarised by Mel Budd, a guest speaker from Leading Edge Management Consultancy at a CFA manufacturers’ meeting.

Within the summary, it was noted that ‘The major increases in volume by product since the last report in 2013 have been the growth of luxury vinyl tile’.

It was also discussed that LVT has ‘taken market share from carpet, carpet tile, resilient sheet, ceramic and wood, mainly owing to its product and design advantages. In addition to sales, volumes have improved due to price reductions and improved availability’.

So, what’s the link from the above back to CPD? Well, if you’re a fitter and you want to fit this product, you’re going to want to fit it correctly. This ensures your customers are happy, there are no failures in the flooring later down the line which could result in losing money or tarnishing the reputation of your business.

Alternatively, if you’re suggesting the product to a client as part of a sale or tender, you may also want to know that what you’re selling is the right product for the right environment, as well as that it’s fitted correctly.

This all boils back down to being aware of your existing knowledge and realising when you need to update your behaviours, skills and techniques. It’s too easy to think: ‘I can’t learn something new’ or ‘I haven’t got time’ but development is, like all things in life, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you will gain as a result.

A multi-skilled workforce is important now, more than ever, as we approach uncertain futures in the manufacturing and flooring industry.
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Shan Wadsworth is CFA training manager