BMBI Expert Andy Williamson, Group Managing Director IKO plc, comments exclusively on Roofing Products for Q4 2015.
Six major storms in the last six weeks of 2015 – Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva and Frank – brought damage to homes and misery to homeowners. Climate change is bringing us more extreme events.
November was a record 22.4°C which also brought more than 200% of average rainfall to the North-West. December was the warmest since 1910, and exceptionally wet and windy, with record-breaking rainfall over much of northern UK.
Winter is always tough on roofs. Slates and tiles are lifted, wind and rain penetrate and suddenly roofers are busy making emergency repairs. Roofers have had lots to do this January and February. But sudden peaks in demand are difficult to satisfy. The weather which caused the problem can also prevent safe work on repairs.
More significantly, there aren’t enough skilled workers available to respond. It’s been a problem since five years of recession and financial uncertainty forced many in the trade to seek alternative work. When business picks up you can’t simply call on a reserve of skilled roofers to do the work. They’ve found new jobs, left the industry.
Many companies have addressed the skills shortage, taking on apprentices and trainees to fill the gap, but that’s a long-term project. In the short term these recruits aren’t yet ready to work unsupervised. We need to do more to attract skilled trades back to our industry.
It’s good news that the Government has announced plans to invest £100bn in Britain’s infrastructure. But high profile projects such as Crossrail or HS2 attract skilled workers away from smaller scale, less glamorous jobs, so where will the workers come from to fulfil these plans? It’s something Government and industry urgently needs to address.
Download the Full Q4 report here