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Despite the challenges of Brexit, the pandemic and a cost of living crisis, the president of the Thermal Insulation Contractors’ Association (TICA) predicts “significant opportunities” lie ahead for the industry.

Speaking at its annual general meeting in London, Paul Ashton reminded TICA members that the government has set out its plan to spend £650bn over the current decade on infrastructure as part of its National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline.

He told the 280-strong audience that the government has also been specific regarding the procurement process – requiring a focus on best practice and in engaging with those contractors delivering a quality service and who employ a skilled and competent workforce.

In addition, energy security and carbon reduction remain high on its agenda, including hydrogen production, waste to energy projects, the construction of new nuclear power plants and carbon capture and storage.

“Opportunities for TICA member companies are significant,” he said. “All these projects will require a significant amount of high-quality specialist insulation, the thing TICA companies are known for. In short, I believe the future is very bright.”

However, he warned that there is a cloud on the horizon in the form of a national shortage of skilled operatives to carry out the work – something that can be addressed by businesses taking on greater numbers of apprentices.

TICA will welcome a record number of apprentices, in excess of 125, to its National Training Centre in Darlington this year and is already working on ways to attract more new people into the industry.

Paul, who is managing director of Powertherm Contract Services Ltd and is in his third and final year as TICA president, appealed to members to consider the value of apprenticeships and that, with the right mentorship, they can quickly become productive members of the workforce.

He added: “They (apprentices) don’t come with any pre-determined ideas or baggage; they’re keen to impress and learn to work the way you want them to work, and to your standards.

“In addition to the financial upside, you’re also growing a workforce that, if you look after them right, remains loyal to your business well into the future. In summary, it’s good for the apprentice, it’s good for the industry and it’s good for the sustainability of your business.”

The only trade association representing the thermal insulation industry, TICA is the sole provider of the industry’s Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeship standards.

It also provides its members with a full apprentice recruitment service, writing and placing apprenticeship vacancy adverts, providing an initial sift of applicants, and arranging interviews.

Photo Caption: TICA president Paul Ashton addresses the trade association’s AGM

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