2020 and so much still to do

By Jon Vanstone, Certass

This year has been one of so much talk and so much promise yet collectively we have achieved very little, and glazing has a long way to go to gain parity with other construction markets.

We have a number of excellent products and related innovations within our sector, as well as a skilled workforce in our army of local tradespeople, yet we leave 2019 with the same problems we entered the year with.

The big topic of the year has been the skills shortage, thanks to an ageing workforce and lack of new talent coming into the industry. Poor consumer reputation, high failure rates and poor on-site standards from the big nationals are not doing anything to help solve the issue, while government tightens the reigns on standards and legislation.

The restrictions on products impacted by fire regulations are one of these issues. While we have an active base of manufacturers and fabricators finding the solutions, as an industry there is no united voice; FIT Show asked stage panellists to play nice, Glazing Summit only invited one side of a debate. Too often there are new initiatives talking about how good we are papering over cracks with the pretence that it is all down to perception issues as opposed to some hard facts.

Conformational bias needs to be chucked in the bin as it is too easy to sit around and say, “we are all amazing but just a bit misunderstood”. The largest offender in the TrustMark arena is glazing, yet we are not even in the top five industries by volume of its membership.

Greater scrutiny is coming with our practices onsite, and the current structure in the market means that those who conform are subject to more hurdles and associated costs, while too many operate in the shadows. Without unity we are unable to deal with those who do not play by the rules; any plan for the industry should include all aspects of our industry as only by listening to the views of others can we improve.

In 2020 the focus will be on proving ourselves as a competent workforce, who get it right first time. The rhetoric being used by the rule makers has switched to vocational competence as recorded evidence shows existing qualifications in the building fabric sectors (of which we are one) do not lead to onsite quality.

Certass members will be in the right place as we focus attention on where the market will be, as opposed to others who try to fight the tides of change. It is probably our alignment to the matters of the future that made us Trade Association of the Year in our inaugural year and the first time won by our industry. In 2020 we will be supporting the launch of a new look qualifications set aimed at making our industry better.