Attracting the younger generation to careers in the tool, plant and equipment hire sector is the biggest challenge to businesses in the short to medium term says Hire Association Europe (HAE).

By raising the industry’s profile through its career programme, HAE hire leaders are aiming to counter balance an aging workforce (average age 50+) and potential skills crisis by encouraging young people to step up to the plate and equipping them with the skills needed for a sector supplying the operational resources and equipment to fulfil vital infrastructure contracts.

HAE has over 900 members across the world, including major British companies such as JCB and A-Plant, and yet hire is an industry that tends to get overlooked by young people leaving education and seeking a career path, despite the potential for a relatively quick route to the top for someone talented.

Managing Director of HAE, Graham Arundell, said: “When I’m talking to members I’m hearing that the biggest challenge facing the hire sector is recruiting and retaining young people. The education system is not turning out people with the right skill sets even for such a diverse marketplace as ours. Some members look to recruit 50-60 apprentices a year but it can be a struggle to find the right quality of individual.”

Job opportunities are wide ranging from depot managers, engineers and mechanics to customer service, IT, financial and logistics. As part of HAE’s commitment to attracting and then supporting new people in the tool, plant and equipment hire sector, the association is driving ahead with initiatives such as the Future Hirers programme - working with educational establishments - and the ILM Level 5 Graduate scheme, both aimed at 18-30-year-olds. HAE is also adapting gaming technology into award-winning (Commitment to Skills category of the Plantworx Innovation Awards 2017) virtual reality training modules.

It is hoped these initiatives will fast-track individuals on a career to reach the very top of the hire sector profession.

The hire sector is a vital component in enabling the delivery of economic activity, commercial and public, in the UK and globally. HAE members provide the resources and capability behind much public and commercial investment: in land and buildings, infrastructure, national and international events and corporate hospitality.

Mr Arundell concluded: “We are doing a lot of work on virtual reality, the spin off from this initiative is at career fairs where we have lots of young kids queuing up to have a go at it. It gives us the opportunity to engage with them and make them aware of the industry and the different career paths on offer. We have to act now to ensure that a potential skills gap will not come to fruition.”

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