Following the recent World Championship for Young Roofers (IFD) and SkillBuild 2016, young roofers have certainly been dominating the news headlines: and rightly so. In fact, the more we can do to encourage young roofers to join our sector and develop their skills, the more effective we will be in closing the gap of ageing roofers set to retire, and meeting the growth in housebuilding as pledged in this month’s Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Indeed, the cementing of the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund to deliver up to 100,000 new homes in areas of demand, together with £1.4bn put aside to provide 40,000 additional affordable homes, is welcome news for the roofing industry. Not only will it help invigorate our sector by encouraging house building, it will help create jobs and growth in construction and the wider UK economy.
However, it’s vital that we have the workforce in place to deliver these extra homes, particularly skilled roofers. We already know that there are too few young roofers joining our sector and acquiring the necessary skills; hence, it’s now more important than ever to hold on to existing young roofers, as well as attract more young blood to join our exciting profession.
As proven by some of the career success stories that we’ve heard from recent winners and participants of skills competitions, these events provide an ideal opportunity to promote roofing as a viable career option and to entice Year 11 School Leavers into our industry. They also provide the best platform to showcase the roofing fraternity as a long-lasting career choice with lifelong learning opportunities.
Whether you’re the owner of a roofing company looking to bolster your workforce with apprentices or to extend their training or a young roofer looking to increase your skills and climb the career ladder, everyone has a part in inspiring future generations of skilled workers to discover the relevance and importance of roofing skills by participating in skills events.
Even if it’s simply engaging with local schools and offering work experience opportunities, companies can offer youngsters the opportunity to learn at first hand the benefits of our profession. At this year’s SkillBuild, for instance, NFRC ran a very successful roof tiling showcase area, sponsored by Redland Monier and supported by Regional Roof Training Groups as part of a roofing career and image promotion campaign. It provided an excellent opportunity for NFRC to engage with hundreds of school students and parents who were looking to explore career options. Hopefully, NFRC's presence will have helped convince some of them to consider roofing.
Moving forwards, we all have to do a better job of backing youngsters up and making sure they have an opportunity to explore a roofing as a career option as early as possible. In doing so, our industry will be able to reap the rewards of recruiting and retaining the young blood vital for our profession. After all, our future lies in their hands.