Recruitment: the paradoxes of the tiler profession, seen by Denis Estève

05/01/2023 By acomputer 450 Views

Recruitment: the paradoxes of the tiler profession, seen by Denis Estève

Tiling companies are struggling to recruit. Denis Estève, business manager, explains what has changed in the business and why a communication campaign is necessary.

Photo: Aged 53, Denis Estève runs La Société des Couvertures, a family-run SME of nine people, based in Neuilly-sur-Marne (93) and founded by his father in 1974. He also chairs the Chambre Syndicale des contractors of FFB Grand Paris Marble-Mosaic Tile Coatings and he is secretary of UNECP-FFB.

The profession is launching a “Become a tiler” communication campaign. "The aim of this campaign is to restore the image of the profession and to promote it to all those who want to change direction," explains Denis Estève, manager of the Société des Couvertures. Here is his interview.

Batirama: What are the main difficulties you encounter in recruiting?

Denis Estève: We are faced with a paradox: our Apprentice Training Centers (CFA) are full but, nationally, the number of young tilers who graduate is weak. Take the example of Blanquefort (33), the second CFA in France. It welcomes 1,100 students, including 30 in the Tiler section. But, during their training, 15 students reorient themselves and only 15 are graduates at the end of the course. This is too little to meet the needs.

Recruitment: the paradoxes of the tiler profession , seen by Denis Estève

As for temporary work companies, we are offered profiles of masons or plasterers who have done some tiling but not really qualified tilers. The few who are often prefer to stay on as a temporary worker, for reasons of personal convenience, rather than joining a company despite the offers made to them.

Finally, on the Pôle Emploi side, there is no qualified labor: all the good tilers are already at work. Add to this that our profession is changing: we are constantly integrating new products (adhesives, new-sized tiles, etc.) and new tools that our tilers must train internally to remain efficient. The equation is complex…

What is the current situation for tiling companies?

Denis Estève: Our order books are relatively full, but the situation varies according to the geographical location of the companies. One of my colleagues who is the regional delegate of the UNECP-FFB in Puy-de-Dôme told me recently that he had no work in his region. But companies located in large cities or in the Paris region have much better visibility.

In Île-de-France, the Grand Paris Express is giving us momentum: we have work until 2023, or even until 2024. Tiler companies that have a certain reputation are over-solicited. We are only 6 to 8 to regularly respond to requests from large groups such as Eiffage or Vinci. This year, I signed for 30 to 40 million euros for tiling quotes: it's huge! I have work for the whole of 2022.

The number of tile setters has been falling for several years. In 1980, the Coating Company employed 40 tilers. In 2021, they are only five, for an average age of 50 years. Our old companions have retired. Consequence: we still ensure our “common thread” production directly, i.e. 20% of our activity.

And we outsource 80% of our contracts. The subcontracted tilers are mainly of Turkish origin, with an average age of 35 years. Most of the time, they work by the task: it is physical. You need health.

When you're young, you can screed all day and lay your tiles on your knees. It's less possible when you reach fifty... We make sure that the "hardworking" side of the job doesn't affect our guys too much by varying the tasks. We are also automating all the logistical part of the tiler job using electric pallet trucks, trolleys, very ergonomic wheeled stools, suction cups... But we cannot yet automate the laying of the tiles, which must be positioned one by one. A…

What do you concretely expect from the national campaign launched by the UNECP-FFB?

Denis Estève: This campaign aims to restore the image of the profession and promote it to all those who want to change direction. It will last several years: we hope to arouse the interest of many candidates.

But, without delay, we are also going to act between tiler companies to meet the strong demands of the market by helping each other to avoid work overload, for example by pooling resources to deal with large production requests. We imagine being able to operate in the form of groups of companies, especially since some markets already prohibit the use of subcontracting.

Specifically, how will new candidates be supervised to learn the trade if you lack experienced tilers?

Denis Estève: Above all, we lack men: from beginners to qualified. Certainly, experienced tilers are less numerous but they are there. Thanks to their help, we will be able to train new tilers on site, making sure to entrust them with work that fills them with positive values.

It all starts with the desire of the person: the one who is not put off by physical work can succeed. The trade of tiler remains an architectural tradesman. When you realize marble bathrooms, very graphic, for large hotel groups and you look at your finished work, you savor the pleasure of having accomplished your task well. And you are proud of the result!

Source: Jacques Le Corre