Building Our Skills

Glass Times editor Nathan reports from a Building Our Skills conference where the growing gap between the supply of and demand for skilled labour was discussed in detail.

A week ago, I attended a conference organised by Building Our Skills at Liniar House in Derbyshire. Its purpose was to inform Building Our Skills supporters of the campaign's progress and provide details of how they can get more actively involved.

The organisers also shared details of a range of developments that have helped to raise awareness of the industry among those companies want to attract in a bid to bridge the growing skills gap. 

Building Our Skills Ambassador John Ogilvie started by saying: “We are all aware of the growing skills gap in the industry and many are feeling it in their own businesses.”

The morning of presentations that followed was focused on not only highlighting the problems that companies had in winning new talent, but how to go about tackling the problem head on.

If anyone was there hoping for a single answer to a complex problem, they would have come away disappointed. Instead we heard from organisations that work closely with industry and education to bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace.

The overwhelming message that delegates came away with was that attracting and developing skills was the responsibility of all employers, not some overarching body. I will report more on this in the December issue of Glass Times, but I must leave the last word with Tracey Jackson from Howells Patent Glazing, who works closely with schools to offer careers advice, a mentoring service, and work experience, as well as offering all employees an opportunity to go on an NVQ course – an obligation she said does not cost much in time or money.

“We need to make manufacturing a go-to career, not something where people end up because they can’t do other things,” she said. “Unless we tell them, they won’t choose our industry.”