Use local or lose em!

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FB_IMG_1443551657800_resizedHaving recently seen this on social media I thought it was extremely appropriate, I am proud to say my father has been a local business for almost 50 years, he supported me through his work with our customers to allow me do my hobbies, then learn my trade and remain within the town I was born continuing the business, which in turn has given me the means to allow my children to do the things they enjoy.

We have generally always tried to purchase locally and certainly any businesses that have asked us to work for them, I endeavour to give them repeat trade.

What troubles me is the way my trade is going, in my father’s day an apprenticeship meant you were indentured to an employer to learn you trade for up to 7 years. You started at the very bottom and had to learn every aspect gradually building your skills.

Those principals were applied to my apprenticeship also, although at the time there was only three years at college available to gain your “craft and advance craft certificates” there was still plenty to be learned after that and Dad made sure I gained sufficient knowledge to begin with and for there on I have continued to learn as time has progressed.

Today’s apprenticeships are woefully underfunded and far too short, much of the course is based around health and safety, which is important naturally but I miss good old fashioned common sense. Practical skills are taught but usually in a disjointed fashion, where a small cubical is used and each week a little task is completed giving no sense of urgency or planning skills for real world timescales.

Many teaching practices are dated, apprentices not knowing how to hold a brush more than one way being a classic, or how to work methodically. Product knowledge is almost none existent. Focus is either more about pushing apprentices towards early self employment when they really aren’t ready. Or in many instances courses have been geared to suit the type of work a local major industry employer might do and not in the direction of domestic decorating.

This leads to the colleges and employers having a high turnaround of apprentices, many of which don’t end up with jobs at the end of this limited training. The danger is all too often some many drift through various casual jobs.

 

All too often are adverts displayed either on social media sites or supermarket notice boards about “cheep or cut price painting” figures of £30 per room are common place. This does make me concerned about the future of my trade, not actually competing against these unrealistic prices but the actual detrimental effect it has on us as a whole.

Let me try and explain, would any of us jump at the chance of bargain basement dentistry? How about letting anyone with a set of spanners service your new car or perhaps an unregistered handy man service your gas central heating.

Most trades are regulated by some professional body or other to raise standards and give the customer some piece of mind and protection. Sadly painting and decorating never has been, it’s always been the poor relation because everyone can do it…..right?

In theory yes everyone can wield a brush should they choose and many enjoy a little do it yourself, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Which returns me back to the £30 per room painter, honestly an average room would mean this person working for less than £2.50 per hour. Would you expect a professional tradesperson to work for that?

At these rates it’s probably someone supplementing their wage on days of or worse still their benefits. A Gas fitter wouldn’t even come to your house without a call out charge higher than that.

Bringing us back to how is a tradesperson supposed to support his family; firstly unrealistic pricing means there would be hardly any disposable income to spend locally, secondly many give up or decide to chase work in the cities which takes trade away from local rural areas again sadly.

Our efforts to support local trade extend to our youngest musical instrument obsession which at last count is five different instruments; we are on first name terms with the music shop owners.

Our oldest is away in a city university, apparently there are no butcher’s shops or supermarkets selling meat, they phone home, their mother goes to our local butchers and I’m expected to make a meat delivery every couple of months…

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