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RCI April 2017

INDUSTRY NEWS - WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY Shining a light on the roofing sector The roofing industry descended on Westminster last month for an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Roofing Showcase Event to reinvigorate interest in the APPG for the roofing industry and to officially launch the Roofing Sector Workforce Development Strategy. Seeking to attract full government and private sector backing, support and engagement, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) has launched its four-year Workforce Development Strategy that is designed to elevate standards and ignite growth across the roofing sector, ultimately opening doors to new jobs, higher standards, and helping the UK to reach its current construction targets. This development is the result of an independent research project undertaken by Skyblue Research on behalf of the NFRC, the Roofing Industry Alliance (RIA) and funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Three objectives The research set out to identify the key challenges facing the roofing sector and after engaging with a cross-sector group of 141 UKbased roofing contractors, it concluded that a revival in the roofing sector could be kickstarted by satisfying three key objectives. These objectives form the cornerstone of the Workforce Development Strategy: Establish the roofing sector as a professional, modern, respected and aspirational sector with clear career paths; able to attract the best and the brightest apprentices, students and new workers. Formalise and standardise a higher UK-wide training, accreditation and assessment infrastructure: to upskill and multi-skill its growing workforce. Proactive engagement with all roofing sector companies, suppliers and trade associations, and seeking endorsement and commitment from all procurement stakeholders; enabling growth, increased training, and access to grants and higher standards. Commenting on this development, James Talman, chief executive of NFRC, said: “It’s well known that any chain, process or greater goal is only as strong as its weakest link, and 006 APRIL 2017 RCIMAG.COM without doubt the roofing sector has long felt like the poor relation of the construction industry. We have a major image problem due to a lack of clear differentiation between a qualified skilled worker and an operative who calls him / herself a roofer after carrying out a health and safety test. “The Workforce Development Strategy sets out to provide insight into the specific areas of recruitment, training, accreditation and modernisation, that are perceived to be lacking in the roofing sector. By adopting the three key objectives recommended in the report and obtaining government backing for roofing, there would added benefit to the wider construction industry, apprenticeship and employment figures, and the UK economy as a whole. We are confident that we will see a resurgence in our sector. “This research and its conclusions form the cornerstone of our strategy to modernise practices and behaviours. These will ultimately establish a contemporary, relevant professional sector, which encourages opportunity and innovation. In doing so, we will clearly demonstrate to all building owners whether in large-scale public procurement or a householder carrying out an extension, that insisting upon roofing contractors with accredited roofers is simply an essential requirement.” Zink Copper Stainless 01992 801927 www.almhm.co.uk Research findings In attempting to uncover the barriers to supporting growth in the roofing sector, the research project identified the following eight issues: – Specialist skills in roofing are not recognised externally. – Limited training and qualification opportunities – outdated recruitment methods are stifling new talent. – Training availability is scarce in some geographies. – Assessment is in limited supply UK-wide – difficulties in incentivising training and development. – Covering costs of delivery is a bigger concern than training. – One in five construction site deaths are linked to roofing. Further barriers to growth Alongside the barriers to supporting growth, the research also uncovered several issues that served to cause a sense of anticipation and optimism amongst participating companies as follows: – Business growth. – Recruiting specialists. – Recruiting apprentices. – More ambitious targets. – Diversity in specialisms, – A desire for improvement. – Increased training numbers. – Closing the skill gap. James concluded: “The roofing sector recognises its own weaknesses, yet holds a growing belief in the potential that could be unlocked. Many of the actions and objectives required to revitalise our industry as a career of choice can be taken by us collectively. “However, to really make a difference and to empower the roofing sector to play its part in the government’s industrial strategy, we need full government and private sector backing, support and engagement. The unveiling of our new strategy is the first step to achieving this.” 1. 2. 3. The Rt Hon David Hanson MP addresses the audience at the launch of the NFRC’s four-year Workforce Development Strategy at the All Party Parliamentary Group for the roofing industry, Westminster, London


RCI April 2017
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