Published On: Mon, Sep 11th, 2017

Addressing aluminium sector skills shortage

Nick Cooper, AluK’s Technical Director, explains how AluK’s Academy is aiming to help address the skills shortage in the aluminium sector

The industry is right to be concerned about the impact the ongoing skills shortage is having on the ability of fabricators and installers to expand and diversify their businesses. AluK’s recent State of the Market debate, staged at the FIT Show, identified a potential lack of skills as one of the key factors limiting future growth. Uncertainty over the direction of Brexit is unlikely to help the situation in the short term, so it’s unsurprising that training continues to be such a hot topic for so many. As the most recent Palmer Report pointed out, there is growing demand in the aluminium sector in particular, which is tremendously exciting. But the reality is that fabricators and installers who want to get started in this market need their workforce to be fully skilled if they are going to be able to capitalise fully on that demand.

At AluK, we believe we have a key role to play in helping our customers, and the wider network of installers they work with, to acquire and of course strengthen those skills and a responsibility as a systems company to invest in facilities and resources which are both practical and accessible. At our new HQ in Chepstow, we have shown our commitment to doing just that and have just opened the brand new AluK Academy. Here, our team of ‘Experts in Aluminium’ are delivering a whole raft of different training courses on all aspects of windows, doors, façades and curtain walling – from installation to software and servicing. These are designed for our fabrication partners and their installer customers, and of course for contractors and specifiers as well. Some are specifically aimed at all those companies and individuals who have been motivated by the Palmer Report to get more involved in aluminium or who were inspired by what they saw at the FIT Show.

The two most relevant options for these newcomers, and particularly for those who are coming from a PVC-U background into aluminium, are our courses on Aluminium Window and Door Installation (AK08) and Bi-folding and Sliding Door Installation (AK07). Both of these last a full day and are entirely free to attend. We recognise though that, even when a course is free, it requires an investment of time, so we make sure that the overriding focus is on improving bottom line profitability – not just by making sure that installations are correct and efficient but also that they avoid any risk of costly callbacks. Both of these courses are split into two parts – theory and practical, and both start with the methodologies and requirements necessary – from basic health and safety, to fixing and strapping requirements and perimeter sealing. They then move on to practical experience on AluK’s dedicated Academy training rig, making sure that everyone who takes part has the opportunity to put the skills they learn into practice in an environment which is as close to a real world setting as we can make it.

On the Window and Door Installation course, delegates install an entrance double door (2400mm x 2175mm) and a window with side panel (1200mm x 1300mm) – taking in everything from squareness to glazing along the way. There is expert advice and guidance throughout the process from our technical engineers, and lots of top tips on how to avoid all the common pitfalls. On the Bi-Fold and Sliding Door Installation course, our team talk delegates through each of our bi-fold and sliding door products including the brand new F82 bi-fold and SC156 sliding door from our premium Luminia range, the BSC94 lift and slide and inline sliding door and BSF70 bi-fold from our Optio range.

Then delegates get to grips with both a bi-fold and a sliding door (2400mm x 2175mm), and once again, learn the practical skills necessary to make sure their installations are painless and, above all, profitable. Both these courses are currently going through the GQA accreditation process, ensuring that everyone who attends will receive an instantly recognisable certificate. The next scheduled dates are Wednesday 13 September and Wednesday 1 November. All of AluK’s Academy courses are free to attend and can be booked online ( or by phone: 01291 639739. A prospectus showing all the courses we offer is also available to download via the website.