The secret of success is constancy of purpose.
Recessions come and go in cycles and so do the reactions to those recessions.
After each of the ones I’ve worked through we had the concerns about production capacity, about transport capacity and about skills shortages.
This last recession was no different and we are now hearing the calls across the industry for a recognition that if we don’t sort the skills out then we will be in just as much difficulty as we were a few years ago. Having no-one skilled enough to do the work is probably as bad as not having the work there to do.
In the wake of exam results, the FMB is ramping up its call for youngsters to look seriously at careers in construction and the BMF has launched its Youth Recruitment Campaign with its first Recruitment Open Day to be held at the HQ in Coventry in October.
We definitely need to get more people into the industry and, alongside this, we need to recognise those we already have.
I’ve got one of the hardest parts of my job coming up on Friday. Along with esteemed colleagues from the BMF, I’ve got to go through the entrants for the BMJ/BMF Young Merchant Achiever Award.
Last year, I was overwhelmed by the incredibly high quality of the entrants. As I have been this year. It’s heartening – and a little humbling, if I’m honest – to see what has been achieved by so many youngsters in a relatively short career, so far.
This year’s entrants have turned under-performing branches into profit-centres, risen from holiday-cover to senior management, implemented new systems, new marketing programmes, new business areas. They’ve taken ownership of projects and seen them through to profitable conclusions, they’ve been through rigorous training programmes in their own time, they’ve taken on new challenges, learned new skills and used them to further their own development and that of their companies and their colleagues.
What’s also heartening is the way that many of the companies themselves are clearly taking the development of their employees so seriously.
Too often development is seen as part of training, as something you do for newer entrants to companies, the general feeling being that once you get past a certain level you don’t need any more. This is, of course, nonsense. The future of our industry doesn’t rest solely in the hands of these youngsters coming through. The rest of us have a duty to make sure we don’t mess things up and that the undeniably talented youngsters coming through still have decent business to work in as they develop.
At the risk of sounding like Sir Bruce Forsyth on Strictly, they’re all my favourites and I am dreading having to make the final decision. I wish they could all win.
Still, final award winners or not, anyone who has been nominated can be very proud of their achievements. And the rest of us can be pretty positive about the future of the industry.