More and more people are leaving the asbestos industry. It’s a hard one to work in with early starts, driving long distances and working unsociable hours in dirty environments.
In the past, it was a well-paid industry but since the pandemic, wages aren’t rising as fast and trainees can get jobs with better hours and similar wages in other sectors.
Attitudes to work seemed to have changed during lockdown and many working from home have enjoyed their work/life balance – they’re not so driven by overtime.
In addition, over the last five to six years, an agency workforce that enjoys continuous work at a high day rate has taken over. These people won’t be the project and technical managers of the future. It means we need to think about succession planning now to ensure we have employees working their way through ranks, with the skills and experience to take over the reins.
There’s an immediate need for succession planning in the industry and while there are no hard and fast answers, what we need now is to consider the softer side of HR to meet these challenges.
If the pandemic has led to people considering their priorities, then a top car, high salary and overtime are possibly a thing of the past. What we can start to do is look at offering improved working terms and conditions, including a better work/life balance, flexible working hours and perks such as health plans.
It’s also imperative that we offer trainees the opportunity to become multi-skilled in an industry where, in years to come, asbestos management won’t always be needed in the UK. Give them the chance to diversify into legionella, fire and gas so there’s a clear career path for them long into the future.
We have no magic wand to wave here, but collectively we should be worried and collectively we should find solutions.