Supply and demand: addressing the skills gap

With industry warning of a skills crisis, Bohle’s Dave Broxton explains how the supply chain could be part of the answer.

While there’s universal agreement that the skills gap is one of the key challenges facing industry, what to do about it is less clearly defined.

Under investment has resulted in a failure to recruit young people into the sector. Generational change means that a lot of skills have gone as older workers have retired and the opportunity to hand expertise on has been missed. This, combined with pressure on time and resources, means that skills have been lost.

This is not only a missed opportunity for individuals working in our sector but the companies that employ them, because it’s having a huge impact on bottom line.

If there’s a cost attached to training, it’s insignificant compared to the far greater cost attached to not having people with the right skills set in place to do the job right.

The glass processing supply chain has a key part to play in addressing the skills deficit. Bohle is putting its money where its mouth is and is offering a free-to-attend training programme for glass processors and fenestration professionals.

The courses give attendees key skills to take back to their own companies. They cover a wide range of topics including: safe glass handling; balustrading; Juliet balcony and sliding door installation; environmental control technologies; processing machinery maintenance and optimisation; optimisation of industrial glass cutting processes.

The supply chain has the potential to play a very significant part in addressing the skills and knowledge deficit through training.

If we have the product knowledge or the regulatory understanding, it’s in our interests to share it. To do that effectively suppliers need to establish a two-way dialogue with their customers, to really drill down into their training requirement and to support them where we have the expertise to help them be better at what they do.

Our seminar and training programme has been developed to be entirely tailorable, giving customers the flexibility to drop or add modules that align training specifically to business requirement.

No two courses are the same. Everything we do is developed around the customer. For example, we delivered a course on glass marking, measuring and handling, late last year.

The content and syllabus was set by the client and specific to their requirement. This included developing a more detailed understanding of glass marking and the regulatory requirements that underpin it, plus the practical elements involved in marking product.

This hands-on element of the course covers everything from PPE, through to acid paste screen printing and sandblasting. This also includes guidance on which equipment to use, from Cressmark (Bohle’s acid paste screen printing system) to stencils.

The example course also included a module on glass measuring and product identification. This included training on how to use Glass Buddy and Glass Buddy Plus, which eliminate the risk of inaccurate supply of product by providing an instant analysis of glass properties ahead of manufacture or installation.

The customer also wanted their employees to receive training on safe handling of glass. The module we developed covered an assessment of risk and the application of controls to reduce it, from PPE to the use of appropriate handling equipment, including Veribor suction lifters from Bohle.

It’s one thing having the right kit but another thing using it safely. The training we deliver not only demonstrates what our range of Veribor suction lifters can do, but what they can’t be used to do.

This practical is hugely important in avoiding injury and demonstrating commitment to employee welfare.

The course also covers the safe operation of lifting systems. This includes the LiftMaster B1 manual lifting device. With a compact design and handling weights of up to 180kg, the LiftMaster B1 has been developed to combine the safe and secure movement of glass units, with maximum flexibility.

Bohle’s educational programme also covers more technical elements of glass processing, including industrial glass cutting.

Understanding process, but also the tools and the products to complete those processes, effectively is key to efficiency. If, for example, you’re still cutting glass with the same cutting wheel that you have always cut glass with, because it’s what you have always done, it’s unlikely that you’re doing so effectively.

We’re committed to working with our customers to supply them with products that allow them to process glass more efficiently, but just as importantly by supporting them in training their people.

Equipping them with a better understanding of the tools of the trade empowers them to make decisions that directly contribute to more efficient and better production.