The external factors changing our market

By Jon Vanstone, Certass.

A lot has been written about the need to improve our housing stock across the UK, with considerable focus on safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The government consultation is in full swing surrounding ‘Building a Safer Future’ and the result, when published, will make for interesting reading; the impact analysis will help give clarity to the path we need to follow.

With a need to raise standards at all stages of construction, backed by the threat of enforcement-driven compliance, sectors such as ours, where paperwork and accreditations are often minimal, will need to undergo rapid evolution.

The adoption of qualifications within the PAS2030 requirements, and therefore installation work within the Energy Company Obligation program, will lead to a small pool of UK glazing businesses that will be able to undertake such work.

The threat of enforcement has significantly diminished over recent years as local authorities have favoured letters over court action, which hasn’t helped the fight against the cowboy trader.

To date, the focus for change has largely been on development of new residential buildings, even though we know there are fewer than 300,000 being built annually. However, it is essential that residents in existing buildings feel that action is being taken to resolve their current safety concerns; 60,000 people still live in buildings with ACM cladding.

However, the recent government alignment to net zero carbon targets means that without a significant effort to improve our existing buildings, the UK will fall short of its goal;the protection of our planet should also go hand in hand with protection of people.

With the need to upgrade energy performance and the safety of buildings, glazing has a role to play and our associations need to be properly representative in the right circles.

In the first half of 2019, considerable air time was given to the need to improve our skills and attract people to our market. We want people to pick our industry, yet we are not painting a picture beyond that seen at recruitment fairs. Our industry needs to place itself at the heart of change.

Our current position of worrying about incoming policy, combined with our skills shortage and ageing workforce, creates insecurity. With uncertainty in markets you are more likely to get a skills exodus,which we can ill-afford.

Certass TA was recently awarded Trade Association of the Year at the government-sponsored Trade Association Forum Awards. Certass is determined to promote glazing as a positive agent for change, rather than its historical image of being on the outside looking in.

It is our intention to use this accolade to aid our market on the path ahead.