Training days

Staff retention. Not exactly a priority for most companies in the building industry at the moment. Most are more worried about how they can get rid of people legally and still keep the business going.

But this will change. Eventually. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that we are bumping along the bottom at the moment, and although the line may look a little jagged as we dip down and up again at various points. And when you are at the bottom, it’s also safe to assume that at some point you will start to head back up again.

When that happens – 2011 seems pretty common guess – those companies which have planned for recovery will do the best. Part of that plan has to involve training. I know it seems a luxury for people doing not just their original job but someone else’s too (the lucky ones are only doing two jobs), but investment in people is vital for the long term survival of businesses. Even those that are currently battling with their short-term survival.

I’ve long been of the opinion that merchanting is viewed – quite wrongly – as the unfashionable end of the construction industry. If you want to be architect or chartered surveyor you have a choice of any number of fancy-titled degree schemes but not for merchanting.

So Jewson’s launch last night of the new Foundation Degree in Merchanting is, to my mind, a Jolly Good Thing.

There is already excellent training provision in this industry via the BMF of course. This degree course simply adds to that, bringing the opportunity for a higher education qualification to people who never had or took the opportunity to attend university when they were younger. It is a foundation degree to be completed alongside employment, but the very fact that it exists may open up the idea of a career in builders merchanting to youngsters at the start of their working lives.

Will the fact that it’s Jewson branded be off-putting to some? Possibly but then again if you take a degree in grocery retailing , it would be Tesco-branded and just think how many directors and owners of independent merchants once did a chunk of their training at Jacksons in the past.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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