Report highlight skills shortages in construction sector

Paul Evans - MD of Helm

Paul Evans – MD of Helm

The pace of the recovery in the region’s construction sector has taken many businesses by surprise – triggering chronic skills shortages which have left around half struggling to get boots on the ground.

The latest findings from the Federation of Master Builders point to a faster than anticipated return towards pre-downturn activity levels – leaving many companies struggling to keep pace.

But Helm Construction Managing Director Paul Evans said the firm had stayed one step ahead of the curve.

He comments: “The FMB has once again highlighted the ever-widening skills gap as companies struggle to maintain a highly skilled and experienced workforce.

“We’re not immune – up to now we have relied on our own apprenticeship scheme to maintain a continual turnover of fully qualified tradespeople, but with tenders tripling over the last three months we have had to supplement our own programme with a number of key senior appointments.”

The Pilning-based firm has brought in five new members of staff, and offered apprenticeships to three existing team members in a bid to stay in touch with fast-filling order books, increasing the workforce by around 20 per cent.

He went on: “The trouble with sudden increases in demand is that some companies will begin recruiting large numbers of inexperienced workers, putting them into positions we would look to have proficient and qualified workers in place.”

But he warned schemes such as Helm Construction’s training programme took time to reach fruition.