Shaun Mcallister


Shaun McAllister is another of GQA’s four Non-Executive Directors and brings a wealth of industry experience to the table. He continues to work full time in the sector, and dedicates his own time to supporting GQA.

What does being a Director of GQA mean to you?

I hope this doesn’t sound like a cliché, but it means giving something back. I’ve worked in numerous roles in the window industry over a thirty-year career, starting out as an installer and I am now a company director. I’m grateful for the opportunities it has given me, and now it’s my turn to give back to the industry. When I first started out, the sector was largely unregulated with very little training available. Today, it’s far more professionally operated with a much greater emphasis on achieving qualifications, which has got to be a good thing. I suppose when I started out it was a relatively young industry.

What do you think are the strengths of GQA?

I’d say it’s a combination of two things: its great team of people and the quality of the products it offers. By ‘products’ I mean the qualifications it develops. The GQA team is fantastic. Its people are highly experienced, having worked in the industry, and therefore they really understand its strengths and weaknesses. They fully ‘get’ what it’s like to be at the sharp end. GQA’s products truly benefit people in the industry, which is wonderful. The organisation’s great variety of qualifications spans the complete industry, and it’s exciting that it is expanding into other sectors too. Each qualification is important and relevant, i.e. it is a true measure of the requirements of the work aspect it covers. These qualifications give people something to which to aspire, and provide recognition for their hard work in achieving certain competencies. There’s nothing quite like receiving an award for something you’ve succeeded in. It sets people up for life.

What does your experience bring to the table?

All of the other GQA Non-Executive Directors have specialist experience, but I think I bring a certain amount of experience from all of the fenestration sectors, which makes me a bit of an all-rounder. This makes me pretty well-placed to be able to advise and guide the GQA team in a variety of aspects of its work, and to be able to support it. I also think that working as I do with sole traders, SMEs and large companies is useful.

What changes have you seen in GQA over the past twenty years you'd like to highlight?

The main thing is the organisation’s prolific growth in that time, despite challenges presented by the government. There’s a big demand for GQA’s qualifications. This demand is rising due to the much-publicised skills gap. I believe the fenestration industry needs to be on a similar footing to that of other industries such as plumbing in which formal training and the attainment of qualifications are a given.

How important do you feel qualifications and training are?

Very important. They are better for the individual, better for the employer and better for the customer. Not only do they help to drive up standards in the fenestration industry generally, but they are contributing to improvements in health and safety – an important area. I believe they are helping to protect employees and save lives. Quite honestly, we’ve got to be mindful of how other industries attract young people through formalised training schemes and career paths carved out via qualifications. We’ve got to make the fenestration industry compete on this level in order to attract more young people into it. They need to be able to see the availability of a clear career path so that they can perceive the fenestration industry as an attractive career proposition. Youngsters also need to be made more aware of the sheer breadth of roles available in this industry too. Building Our Skills is doing well in promoting this. It’s the SME, regional retail sector that is really struggling to attract the right people to the fenestration industry. If companies in this sector offer the right training and qualifications they are more likely to win out.

Where do you see GQA heading in the future?

I believe we simply need a period of stability, especially after the turmoil caused by Covid. We just need to focus on getting as many fenestration industry people trained up as possible in order to keep driving up standards. I can see demand for qualifications only continuing to grow. I’m proud to be associated with GQA and to be part of helping to build a brighter and increasingly professionalised industry.

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