Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Less than one in three available bricklayer apprenticeships across South West College's campuses are filled.
AN ACUTE shortage of bricklayers in Mid-Ulster is putting the construction industry under threat.
Less than one in three available apprenticeships across South West College's campuses are filled and it is understood none are being trained in Dungannon.
Details of the shortage were revealed by South West College (SWC) officials at a meeting with Mid-Ulster District Council.
There are just 16 bricklaying apprentices in training throughout the College's Dungannon, Omagh and Enniskillen campuses, despite there being 50 places available.
And the College has confirmed to the Courier they are going to make further efforts to encourage young people in to bricklaying courses.
It has also been stated that the average age of bricklayers working on site is 35.
Another field of training in the construction industry which is suffering from a lack of apprentices is plastering.
South West College has confirmed that "construction industry partners" have told them there is a "shortage of skilled bricklayers and plasterers".
They also said that "industry demands are not being met."
One of the Councillors who attended the meeting with South West College was the DUP's Dungannon representative Clement Cuthbertson.
He expressed his concerns in a statement to the Courier, saying: "I was very alarmed to learn that there is no current uptake on certain construction apprenticeships.
"The lack of a trained workforce in skilled trades which are vital to the growth of the local economy is very concerning. Statistics show that the average age of bricklayers working on site is 35.
"The College has been actively promoting and providing apprenticeship courses in the construction trade and hopefully this current trend can be reversed."
In a statement to the Courier, South West College acknowledged the challenges: "South West College has more places available on Brickwork and Plastering Apprenticeship courses than applicants.
"Also, Construction Industry partners have indicated that there is a shortage of skilled bricklayers and plasterers and industry demands are not being met."
And South West College is encouraging schools to point students in the direction of apprentice courses.
Stated a College spokesperson: "The College is commencing another round of recruitment for apprentices and would ask Career Teachers to make school pupils aware of this situation.
"There are currently 16 Bricklaying Apprentices attending SWC and there is scope to increase this to 50 across the three campuses of Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh.
"The College has commenced training in Interior Systems and this course has attracted 32 apprentices to date. It is a plastering related activity but there is also a need for traditional plastering skills and SWC would welcome applications from at least 30 apprentices for this area."
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