Settling down for the last evening of the year is always a time for reflection. 2017 has been nothing if not interesting.
Having started with a gallop as January and February seemed to fly by, it seemed the period after Easter reduced pace and just meandered along. The break for Easter was followed by a period where the whole country was distracted by the election and the subsequent inconclusive result.
That had an interesting effect on the major political issue of the day, that of Brexit – and the differences between “Remain” and “Leave” supporters seemed to get more, rather than less, great. At the time of writing, it appears that at last some certainty has been given to those who come from the EU27 nations and who have made their lives here.
And that’s important – because there is no doubt the construction sector will need their skills for many years to come.
It is well known there is a shortage of skilled workers in the UK – which doesn’t just impact on the need for housing – it has an effect on all of the infrastructure projects we are undertaking.
What many people aren’t aware of is the number of new entrants to the sector when compared to those needed. The CITB has calculated there is a requirement for 40,000 new entrants every year. Presently, about 9000 Apprentices graduate each year. That’s a big gap. And recent changes to the way in which apprenticeship training is funded and delivered have not helped the problem. Quite a number of training providers have withdrawn from delivering apprenticeships – us included – whilst the changes settle in.
In many other cases, training providers have been uncertain how much capacity they will be able to offer – and for many, they have discovered their original offering has been reduced by half because there is insufficient money to go round.
We have no doubt these issues will be overcome, but some months ago took the decision to stop our apprenticeship programmes until matters settled and concentrate on what we do best – help people get their NVQ’s.
Having reflected on that, one’s thoughts turn to the year ahead. There is, as ever, much to do and it is at this time we all think about how we will be different as individuals. Some will plan to give up smoking, others to reduce their alcohol consumption.
I always make a resolution to plan my time better. That usually lasts until I get to the office and one of my colleagues wants my advice. This year, I have a cunning plan, as Baldrick might say. My plan will now contain a slot every morning to be available for the “Have you got a minute” conversations and decisions. That expression has got a lot to answer for – usually those “minutes” turn out to be about half an hour!
But the resolution I made many years ago has withstood the test of time, which is to put “work” in perspective. It’s always a risk when you run your own business, that you will work too many hours – the “work” becomes too important to leave on one side. I have found it will usually wait until I’m ready to do it – and I’ll be far more productive when I do turn my hand to it.
So if I can offer some advice, work cannot read children a story, but will wait whilst you do….it will not see the school play, but be there when you get back from it and it will certainly be there after your house is empty again because your kids have grown up – a much shorter time than you think!
So, to our customers, thank you for your support. To those thinking of joining us, we look forward to seeing how we can help. And to all people engaged in construction, their families and friends, we send our very best wishes for a happy, prosperous and safe 2018!