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Can it be 50 years already?

It seems amazing to think we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding
of the CFA – next month on the 28th to be precise, says Carl Harper.

CFA ceo, Richard Catt, reflected on this milestone in his article in January CFJ. For my part, on the one hand I am continually struck by the dramatic changes that our industry and our wider society have seen over the last 50 years, while on the other hand so many of the key issues that we have to deal with have remained the same over that time. (Not that I can personally remember the flooring industry back then, I hasten to add!).

Our core mission of promoting standards, professionalism, quality, safety and training has remained strong and bright throughout those 50 years – and the need for these values has, if anything, increased over that time. Our Future Fitters campaign, for example, has been developed to meet the needs of today, and has been made possible because of the collective experiences and expertise accumulated over the last half century.

It’s only a shame that the need for such a campaign is so great 50 years on from our foundation, as the flooring industry faces a serious labour crisis owing to a perfect storm.

The storm is caused by: a poor pipeline (not enough people are aware of or understand the opportunities that exist in a career in flooring); a lack of locations where people can obtain training and qualifications, whether they are new entrants to the trade or established fitters who are looking to expand or update their skills; not enough new starters being taken on by contractors; and of course, for some, access to funding.

All these issues are identified in the four pillars of our Future Fitters campaign and are compounded by Brexit, which has resulted in the loss of a lot of European labour. Together all these factors have combined to create the demographic imbalance which we currently have in the sector. In short too many of our staff are in the upper age bracket and are set to retire fairly soon, with insufficient young ones coming through to replace them.

The CFA can be proud of the leading role that it is playing in trying to tackle this situation, and as a result of our STEM Ambassador work and other initiatives, I think we are now starting to make some impact.

While industry representation is an aspect of the CFA’s work which has been there from the start, I am also proud of the way that we have effectively become a leading publisher in the sector with a significant number of publications now produced under our umbrella. This is something which has most certainly evolved over the years to be one of the defining characteristics of the CFA.

We have documented through these publications the transformation and development of so many aspects of the sector over the last five decades – changes to contracts, technological development and design of products, the changing requirements of clients and the arrival of fast-track solutions, modern apprenticeships, training, and sustainability to name but a few.

Training has been a part of the CFA’s agenda for a long time, but I think that we can claim that FITA has taken things to a new level over the last 20 years and is something CFA (via its collaboration with the NICF) can be very proud of. FITA is one of the jewels in our crown and with the addition of apprenticeship delivery in January 2021, we have created the gold standard.

At Westcotes Flooring we value our membership of the CFA because of the way it helps our company, especially in creating a stronger pipeline, generating more leads and in winning more business. We use the technical documents the association creates, and some of the templates, such as a powerful moisture disclaimer, have proved useful.

Helplines sit in the background with legal, health and safety and employment ones periodically providing a welcome steer. These benefits of CFA membership are made possible by our 50 years of market involvement and expertise, and all members can benefit from this shared knowledge. In 2024 they can benefit from the accumulated experience gained since 1974.

Our celebration year will culminate in October at the Crown Plaza in Chester, which promises to be a great event and a fantastic party. I look forward to seeing everyone there.
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