With recent figures from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) suggesting that the shortage of electricians, such as life safety installers, is at its highest level for four years, the skills gap is a pressing issue across the built environment, posing a risk to the industry’s future growth.
The study of European fire safety and emergency lighting installers carried out by the manufacturer found that only two fifths (39 per cent) of respondents work for a company that offers an apprenticeship programme. Just 17 per cent reported that their employer offers a graduate programme to attract university leavers to the industry.
Speaking about the findings, Ray Turner, General Manager – Operations at Hochiki Europe, commented: “The skills gap both in our own sector and across the built environment has been a pressing concern for a number of years but, as the survey shows, our industry is doing too little to address the issue.
“If the industry is to continue to grow into the future, it is imperative that manufacturers and installers create the training opportunities necessary to equip the next generation with the skills they need to build a fulfilling career as life safety professionals.”
Another major cause for concern for installers that was highlighted in the study was the lack of enthusiasm among school leavers for the life safety sector as a potential career avenue.
Four fifths (78 per cent) of respondents felt that young people don’t know what jobs are available in the life safety sector. A further two thirds (68 per cent) worried that young people don’t view the industry as an employment option. Some 93 per cent said that the sector had a responsibility to educate secondary school pupils on the range of life safety roles available to combat this issue.
Ray Turner concluded: “At the same time as creating great apprenticeship and graduate programmes to attract people to the sector, we need to do more to reach out to students while they are still at school and thinking about their future careers, and highlight the benefits of working in the industry.
“Working closely with schools and universities – as individual companies and in partnership with others in the industry – will be crucial to help promote the array of career options, and the paths into the sector. Taking this kind of action now, we can ensure we have the expertise we need not just to thrive today, but to face new challenges tomorrow.”