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16 October 2023

If Only Resilience Could be Taught in Schools

Written By:

Richard Selby

Director and Co-Founder
Pro Steel Engineering



How are we into the latter months of 2023 already? For many it’ll be an exciting time with planning for the next year, but for others it could signal the possibility of a new year with some big business decisions to make.

2023 has highlighted to me the importance of resilience. We all possess it, but sometimes we don’t appreciate its power until obstacles of differing sizes stare us in the face.

As reported on Builders’ Merchants News back in January of this year, market research company ClickUp revealed that 26% of the British workforce (over seven million workers) plan to change jobs in the new year with 42% citing current economic pressures as the main driver and, more specifically, the need to boost their income to offset increasing living costs.

Furthermore, a 2022 study by industry association VDMA found that 60% of businesses expected an increase in demand for skilled workers and engineers in the next 12 months, while another survey undertaken by Autodesk in December 2022 found that 36% of UK construction firms were struggling to hire talent and 58% citing the inability to find the skills they require.

It's always hard to read such predictions, but they are almost always accurate. In the case of employees pursuing higher wages, often leaving the sector to do so, and being unable to find people with the qualified skills required, it’s an ever-constant battle we face. Of course, if we can train someone with a positive can-do attitude, great, but we now receive job applications from almost every sector for really specific roles, and it’s hard to gauge the right person. As a sector, we want to be encouraging and inspiring people to stay within it because it is rewarding, lucrative and hopefully we get the culture right, but how do we do that when the change is so constant, and the challenges out of our control continue to spiral for many? Across businesses, there is a common theme that when things get a little tough, employees simply move on to pastures new, but we business owners stay put and must put that resilience I referenced to the test. Constantly questioning ourselves, who do we hire next, do the responsibilities need to be reviewed, we are striving for success, yet would love some consistency amidst the wider business landscape.

Everyone has their own challenges, and the level of resilience varies, but the constant is that we have to rely on our resilience to change, adapt, and dare I say it, pivot! As an organisation, we did exactly that; we launched a range of mini steel dragons to widen our appeal outside of the sector and launched into new markets, as well as looked at alternative recruitment avenues. These weren’t part of our team planning day in 2022, but challenges came up, and procurement decisions delayed, and the only thing we knew for certain was that we needed to adapt, quickly. One definition of resilience is having the capacity to withstand, or to recover quickly from difficulties. This isn’t something, in my opinion that can be taught, it’s intrinsic and is essentially our gut instinct, our fight or flight reaction.

As we draw to the end of 2023 and have our team planning sessions for next year, we will, where possible predict what we can, but we now include a resilience bullet point to allow for some additional brainstorming which has actually been useful to hear opinions of the wider team too.

As a business owner, resilience is one of the strongest superpowers we possess. Don’t fear uncertainty and change; use the challenges as opportunities to evaluate and grow. And until it is taught in schools, go with your gut, and strengthen your resilience power.


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