Words from the IACDS President: The future is the right peoplePublished 26/11, 2015 at 14:02
In the UK, we came out of the recession some time ago, but its affects are still being felt and while our economy continues to grow, I am still not convinced that we have recovered.
I am not a facts and figures person and while gross domestic product and other indicators might be telling everyone that business is doing better than ever, I know that there are still barriers in the way of my company’s growth and I know it is the same the world over.
The issue I come back to time and again, is people. Without people coming into our industry, staying in it, improving it and moving it forward, what future is there?
Those of you who know me well know that I am an upbeat, positive person and I am always happy to shout from the rooftops about how great our industry is, but that does not mean turning a blind eye when there is an issue as big as this facing us. For me, it is easier to talk about the situation in the UK but I would love to hear from you if you think I am wrong or if the way other countries are bringing people through is any better.
The reason I mentioned the recession was not to look back at the doom and gloom, but to go back to the beginning of this skills crisis in our industry. Many will say that it began well before that, and they are probably correct, but, for me, that was when we lost a great deal of skilled people in our industry who were never to return.
Construction, and all its specialisms, should be booming right now here in the UK, but it is being held back by the fact that so many skills disappeared and we have not managed to replace them. I have spoken to other people within diamond drilling in the UK and they say that one of the big problems is not getting enough people into the industry from an early age.
Of course, we can do our bit, we can sell what we do as a great career and show the pathways on offer for those willing to work hard and learn. But we also need those who are dealing with our young people on a daily basis not to see this as a second-rate industry, that they understand that the world will grind to a halt if we do not hang on to the skills and expertise that construction and our specialism require.
I don’t know the picture overseas, but in the UK, schools are no longer required to have a careers adviser so I am not sure how a youngster is presented with the necessary information to make an informed choice about the career path they are going to take. I would love to know what others do and how other countries go about it because I would like to be in a position where I can inform Government about a good system abroad that we could clone and use in the UK.
I was also alarmed to hear of a main contractor refusing to allow a 17-year-old apprentice onto a site for health and safety reasons who had gone to assist a trained operative. This at a time when we want young people to see diamond drilling as a good career choice.
I don’t have all the answers, far from it and I would be delighted to hear from other companies across the world on how they recruit and if there are any Government or industry programmes that they tap into.
Personally, I don’t think we want to re-invent the wheel, so if there are solutions out there that we can try, I would be more than happy to collate the ideas and try to bring them forward.
Please contact me if you have any thoughts on the vision for the future at firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie White, President of IACDS