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Working Hand in Hand

As reported in various industry media sources, there is a skill shortage in our industry, or to put it another way, there are more jobs to fill than people available.

On this point, I can only speak from the side of the industry I operate within (retail), however, only recently I’ve encountered circumstances that offer an alternative perspective.

In short, it seems we are unable to hang onto what should be a valued commodity in this sector – older workers.

As the recession has receded, giving way to more investment, you’d expect job opportunities to follow.

But during the dark times, retailers were streamlining their business models, meaning a knock-on effect for their suppliers.

As I write, space projects and manufacturing are on 90 days’ notice, all other projects departments are just ticking over while holidays are enforced on employees to spread the work they have among their workforces.

Furthermore, smaller companies are laying off their improvers and are having to look at other avenues within the industry – this situation doesn’t exactly sell our industry to the kids who are leaving school and weighing up their career options.

I applaud anyone who tries to encourage school leavers to enter our industry, but it’s a hard sell, as the reality can be different to the sales pitch and not a lot has changed since I started as an apprentice.

And this is why, given the current situation, I find that older engineers are being overlooked within the job market.

A couple of guys I know and respect within the industry were paid off through no fault of their own.

They brought vast experience and a willingness to help younger engineers with any problems.

And despite these talking to companies via agencies, they’ve had little joy. So while it stands that you can’t buy experience, in this particular case their age (mid-50s) is stopping them filling the roles that are contributing to the so-called skills gap.

So while we need new blood coming in to the industry, there needs to be the jobs to support them.

But to bolster this, we also need the experience to be there so that can be passed down to younger engineers who are making their way in the industry.

Both need to be working hand in hand in order to make our industry stronger.

So we have a catch-22 situation. We can’t progress if the new recruits don’t have jobs to go into and mentors to guide them.

Anonymous Fridge Guy works as a contractor in the supermarket refrigeration sector

Readers' comments (3)

  • Dear Anon (may I call you that?)

    I really like your blog. It is one of the few things that I read regularly.

    Once again you have raised an important issue, but there again you always do.

    I have been reading about a new RAC industry mentoring scheme called 'Sustain-Ability'. Your blog describes exactly why such a scheme is needed.

    The Sustain-Ability Project is the idea of Steve Gill. The two of you should talk because you are both singing from the same hymn sheet on this one. Hope you two get together

    Look forward to reading your next blog. Keep writing


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  • Hi Jason Ive been reading about the Sustain-Ability Mentoring project which looks really good, but I understand that it won't start until September is that correct?

    I must confess that I have never read this blog by Anon before but I saw the comment from Jason and came here to have a look. I like what read and agree with Jason that this really is an important issue and that this is a really good blog.

    Dear Anon, you have just found yourself a new fan from Aus. I also look forward to reading your next one


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  • The new industry mentoring scheme is potentially huge. A really game changer. Industry should get behind this as it is the most significant initiative this industry has seen for years. Truly ground breaking
    By the way, I have also been a regular reading of Anon's pieces for years. You don't know what you have been missing Dave.

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