077 GGP 0115

GGP January 2015

FABRICAT O R V I E W I was never one for saying ‘I told you so...’ The skills shortage is nothing new, says GGP columnist, Danny Williams, Just as I have been wittering on for months now about the lack of good, trained window fitters, (amongst a host of other trades) and as I scribe away by the single candle in my unheated hovel just a couple of weeks before I indulge in a bowl of Christmas gruel – the skills shortages are hitting the headlines. This isn’t news, of course, to anyone who, like me, employs anyone with a modicum of skill in exchange for a decent wage. The headlines have been on brickies who, for some reason, are always the focus, possibly because even the average Joe building an extension on the back of their semi in Surbiton will be aware that there is a certain shortage of these chaps – especially those whose first language is English. The headlines are blazing as if this was something new! The cliché ‘if you find a good builder/plumber/electrician get them to move in with you’ has been flying around for years. And brickies and the rest earning vast sums is hardly news either: remember ‘Superhod’? Back in the 70s,’ this chap drove a Rolls Royce and was reported to have gold taps in his bathroom. However, the fact is that Superhod, aka Max Quarterman, built himself a hod that carried three times as much as your ‘standard’ version, so this fellah surely deserved everything that he earned. And thereby hangs a tale: I will pay these chaps (and ladies too if they make themselves known to me) – brickies, window and door fitters, whatever skills I need – what they want if they do a good job, work hard and, key to it all – turn up! Because there’s no point at all in pitching for any more work if we can’t complete it. But I would sooner pack it all in and retire to a candlelit cell, at least somewhere slightly warmer, rather than line the pockets of lazy arsed scroungers that are not prepared to put in a decent effort. My crystal balls predict… …that this will become a regular headline as it impacts upon this country’s growth and it will become a political hot potato. But the blame rests on a succession of inept governments of both colours because the commitment required to create and sustain a worthwhile collegebased training programme to equip the nation with a skills based workforce is too long term for the political system. Why should any party make the effort when the next lot in will reap the accolades? However, as my reader will recall in a recent rant, I touched upon the real reason for the lack of hands on skills – snobbery. Going to college to learn how to be a “Remember ‘Superhod’? Back in the ‘70s, this chap drove a Rolls Royce and was reported to have gold taps in his bathroom.” bricklayer/electrician/plumber and any one of hundreds of once worthy trades is now second best; the pressure is on for kids to go to university because anything less is a failure. This is fundamentally wrong and highly damaging to our society on so many levels. Before any training programmes, apprenticeships and what have you can begin to redress the balance, we have to adjust our society’s attitude towards college-based education and, more importantly, those that choose this path. How wrong it has become that if a kid doesn’t choose university they are looked down upon. Only 120 days until… …the General Election! Just four months or so of politicians cleaning up their acts, desperately smiling in the direction of anyone that catches their eye in the hope that the general mistrust and cynicism that surrounds even the odd decent politician won’t lose them their seat come 7 May. I honestly believe that the vast majority of people that go into politics with the aim of entering parliament do so with honourable intentions in their hearts. So what goes wrong once they get there? It should be a fascinating and stimulating experience. But whilst the divisions between the two main parties have become wafer thin these days, it is likely to be the ‘toffs’ v ‘plebs’ rather than any meaningful policy-based favouritism that gets a party elected. Sadly, I believe that cynicism regarding politicians will result in further apathy when it comes to voting; we can but only hope that something lights it all up in the next few weeks. Will UKIP get anywhere? They may well do, if for no other reason than so many voters are sick of the same old verbiage; can anyone do any better? Perhaps the system itself is too pre-conditioned to allow meaningful change. Whatever the outcome, I actually believe that the roll that we are on with housing starts will continue, with the knock on effect it has throughout the housing sector and including of course, home improvements. And finally… Taking full advantage of the privilege I enjoy as Ranter-in-Chief for this fine organ, I wish my loyal reader especially, but also anyone that happens to glance in this direction a healthy, happy and successful 2015. 77 www.ggp.com January 2015


GGP January 2015
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