THE construction industry needs to tackle residual snobbery about choosing a trade in order to recruit sufficient staff, it has been suggested.
With many in the sector raising concerns about the shortage of skilled labour, there have been calls for more to be done to promote apprenticeships.
Research from the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) last year reported that 86% of construction companies are experiencing issues as a result of an inadequate supply of qualified tradespeople and Conor O’Connell, Regional Director, Southern Region, CIF, said: “Despite the upturn in construction there are not enough young people considering a trade.”
A Cork industry professional believes ‘we need to fundamentally shift the mindset of education professionals, parents and students alike when it comes to apprenticeships’.
“A greater spotlight needs to be placed on the issue as a whole, not only for the good of the construction sector, but also for individual students coming through the school system who may be influenced by a somewhat negative prevailing attitude towards apprenticeships,” Liam Hetherington, Director at Cork Construction company GPD, said.
“The apprenticeship route is not simply for those who ‘don’t get the points’ for university. It is a direct route to a promising career in the trades industry — be it construction or otherwise.
“We need to remove the negative connotations around the ‘blue collar’ work badge.”
Mr Hetherington is calling on the Government to roll out more initiatives aimed at opening up the number of apprenticeship places and courses available nationally.
“In 2006, there were over 25,000 apprentices in the industry and an annual registration of 8,306 — this has fallen vastly to 3,000 new yearly registrations,” he said. “We’d like to point to the practice in other countries where apprenticeships in a variety of construction trades begin at second level education and are considered a natural and valuable progression pathway for students of all levels of academic ability.”