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Addressing the skills gap in the tiling industry

Acousti-bond Reliable estimates suggest that there are about 180,000 UK tradesmen who are actively involved in tiling- but probably 90% of them have no formal qualifications in this skill. Many are builders and plasterers who also fix tiles - three wet trades in one - and few will have had any proper training in tiling.

This has led to an important skills gap, particularly regarding the use of adhesives, in some parts of the industry. One result of this is a tendency to blame the adhesive when problems are encountered on site, when in reality the fault lies in poor preparation or the wrong choice of adhesive for the background.

The training franchise initiative created by Building Adhesives Limited [BAL] is designed specifically to address the lack of proper training within the industry. It gives tilers the opportunity to come back and improve their skills, and equips newcomers with a sound understanding of tiling and adhesives technology.

The standard courses will cover all aspects of adhesive and grout technology for wall tiling, for floor tiling, or both. As well as practicing tiling techniques, the trainees will be given a thorough understanding of the needs and limitations of all the various background substrates and tiling materials they are likely to encounter. They will also learn how the performance characteristics of individual fixing products have been designed for each situation. Building Adhesives expect this to equip tiling professionals to make better-informed decisions about specific product selection once they resume or embark on their career.

Recently we have signed the first franchise agreement to provide BAL branded training for emerging tiling professionals. The first franchisee, Access Training Wales, is now licensed to use the name of the industry's recognised No.1 brand of professional tiling grouts and adhesives for specific tiling training modules.

In addition, as part of the franchise package, Building Adhesives will provide ‘train the trainer' assistance for Access tuition staff as well as BAL branded clothing, and significant product support. The latter will include supplies of a special training adhesive that looks and behaves as normal during application, but without full bonding strength. This formulation means that tiles used in practical training sessions can be easily recycled - and training bays cleaned - before the next hands-on session begins.

Similar franchise packages are planned with other training organisations in other parts of the UK in due course. However, these will only be with a limited number of independent training partners.

The objective is to achieve selected centres of excellence that turn out tiling professionals trained in standardised techniques and to a consistent skill level. Our BAL Training Packages are designed to reinforce correct workmanship standards and help eliminate certain inconsistencies that have crept into the industry over the years.

Building Adhesives see this initiative as a timely contribution to ensuring high professional standards throughout the tiling sector.

All franchisees will be entitled to augment the core BAL courses if they wish. They will also have extensive access to Building Adhesives' own training personnel, particularly in the early stages of establishing the new modules within each organisation's curriculum.

Building Adhesives operates its own tiling training at two BAL Training Centres - in Stoke-on-Trent and Bristol. In the 15 years since they were first introduced, well over 5000 delegates have successfully completed BAL courses. While most have been tiling apprentices, other trainees have included personnel from property developers and trade distributors. BAL Training is recognised by both The Tile Association [TTA] and the Construction Skills [formerly CITB]. The BAL Training Centres have also been highly commended by the National Training Association [NTA].

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