Richard Catt provides detail on ‘Future Fitter’ – the CFA’s collective term for its project to support its members and the wider sector in recruiting new talent, particularly floorlayers.
THERE seems to be broad agreement in the commercial flooring industry that we need a better plan to recruit more people into our sector and particularly into the role of floorlayers. That said, there’s also some need for good contract managers, estimators, and even the next generation of business leaders.
The CFA’s answer is ‘Future Fitter’ – the collective term for our project to support our members and the wider sector in recruiting new talent and particularly floorlayers. Many things have led us here, including long-term underinvestment, changes to standards and funding, and then more recently depletion of the workforce through Brexit and coronavirus.
We don’t just need more labour, we need more skilled (qualified and competent) labour. The challenge is multifaceted and includes how to reach more ‘new’ people with whom we can engage and train. These people are outside our current field of vision. Our industry has traditionally been built on mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts passing on the baton to sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews. In reality, that’s no longer enough to meet the needs of our sector and the wider construction industry.
There’s no magic wand, but after a lot of research and increased support available to our sector through bodies such as the Construction Leadership Council, we believe the future is actually quite bright … as long as we act now.
Future Fitter aims to do exactly that and also to answer questions such as:
• Where can I send someone to learn about what flooring has to offer?
• There’s no apprenticeship delivery local to me – what are the options?
• I want to advertise a floorlaying role – how do I do that?
• I have many years’ experience in flooring – I’d like to share that knowledge with young people in schools to help them make career choices. How do I do that?
And many more …
As a service to our sector, and because the problem demands wide engagement, you’ll see the CFA has already started to use various communication channels to bring to people’s attention the four main tools we recommend are used: GoConstruct, GoConstruct STEM Ambassadors, Talentview, and the Talent Retention Scheme.
Each of those will provide the support required to engage and answer some of those fundamental questions outlined above. But, of course, CFA members will get additional support and help ensure they can increase their floorlaying resource as quickly as possible.
I recently spoke about the GoConstruct STEM Ambassadors scheme, and this is just one example of where CFA will provide added-value for members. If you want to visit a local school to inspire someone to join our trade, CFA will support with a presentation kit that will make the task much easier. And hopefully lead our members to find their next budding apprentice.
An objective of Future Fitter is to directly signpost those entry points for various people. Apprentices are an important focus, but equally we aim to support more mature individuals who want to make a career change or who find themselves without work.
The fantastic thing is that we have a great opportunity. Floorlaying is a rewarding role and one that can provide a decent income. Equally, if it’s a career they’re seeking there are many people who have started working as floorlayers but have progressed through various roles, to own a business. This, as you will know, isn’t uncommon.
For some sectors, resourcing people to deliver training, training facilities and materials would be a problem. In my experience flooring is a generous trade. As such we already have a great deal of that in place or scalable. That said, another challenge is to re-establish some local delivery that has diminished over the years. Many floorlayers are used to travelling for work, but this is less attractive to young apprentices and may even be a barrier for some adults attending commercial courses too.
The fewer barriers there are, the more likely, in my view, we are to achieve our objective of increasing the skills and labour in our sector.
I’m incredibly excited about this project as it adds enormous value to our industry and shows the CFA and those who work with us at our very best. We’re the voice of the industry and very pleased to be leading the way towards investing in the future of our sector.
The CFA is a leading trade association representing the flooring Industry. If you would like further information about our Future Fitter project, or an application pack outlining the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA offices.