In an interview with Rocalia trade fair, the president of the French SNRoc association talked about how to attract young people and what to teach them
France’s biennial stone fair Rocalia (in Lyon, November 30 – December 02, 2021) will house a Jobs and Training Village with the double objective of making young people aware of career possibilities in these trades and highlighting the attractiveness of the sector. In a press release, the organizers point out that stone not only needs traditional craftsmen’s skills but also new industrial and digital competences. Jean-Louis Vaxelaire, in March 2021 elected as the new president of SNRoc (Syndicat National des Industries de Roches Ornementales et de Construction), gave an interview to the organizers. Worth noting: it was translated into English, while the fair’s program is all in French.
Rocalia: What challenges face the Natural stone sector in 2021 regarding recruitment and the years to come?
Jean-Louis Vaxelaire: The first challenge we have to meet concerns the attractiveness of our trades. We have to get the message over that our trades are not just about “hammers and chisels”, that they are really about thought, imagination and digital technologies. We have to clean up their image and show young people and their parents that working with your hands is something to be proud of. We need to promote public esteem for our trades with diplomas that are more likely to enhance the image their parents have of our sector and show them that we are a sector with a future. The second paramount challenge is the development of apprenticeships as a way of attracting young people and passing on the natural stone “virus”. We have to show them what our companies do through apprenticeships designed to pass on our passion.
Rocalia: Are youngsters attracted by the natural stone sector today?
Jean-Louis Vaxelaire: I believe that the existing diplomas in our sector are not attractive in the long term. We need to recruit young people with higher levels of education to meet the challenges of passing on our trade skills. This requires additional skills in data processing, digital technologies and management… We have to train students to pass on our knowledge – and our companies!
Rocalia: Do the existing training possibilities meet the needs of natural stone professionals?
Jean-Louis Vaxelaire: They are moving in the right direction. French State education has introduced an additional course in digital technologies – on the right track to attract young people. We must focus on 4.0 model companies. Tomorrow’s world will be digital. Training must direct young people towards these trades and we need to move even more quickly in this direction. All the machines sold in the next few years will be computer-controlled. We have to convince youngsters that learning programming is quite within their abilities.
Jean-Louis Vaxelaire worked as an auditor at KPMG for several years. More than 20 years ago, he bought the Graniterie PetitJean. Since 2003, he has been vice president of the CTMNC (Centre technique des matériaux naturels de construction), the center for technologies for the stone sector. His term of office at SNRoc is 3 years.
Rocalia, November 30 – December 02, 2021
(22.07.2021, USA: 07.22.2021)