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Thread: Shipyard seeks foreign workers

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    jimmy jimmy's Avatar
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    Default Shipyard seeks foreign workers

    Shipyard seeks foreign workers to fill skills gap
    May 21 2008 by Barry Turnbull, Liverpool Daily Post

    FAST-GROWING shipyard group Northwest Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders (NSL) has started recruiting foreign workers to plug a skills gap.

    The Birkenhead yard, which will shortly return to trading under the Cammell Laird name, has traditionally been able to rely on a supply of skilled shipyard workers from the local commun-ity, but that appears to be changing.

    Many of the town’s shipyard workers are near retirement age and this, coupled with a boom in orders, is posing a serious challenge. Many skilled workers left the area when the former Cammell Laird closed in 2001.

    NSL, owned by former Cammell Laird managing director John Syvret, has already moved to establish a new apprenticeship programme and has been recruit-ing from Poland to meet demand.

    News of the skills shortage came as the company unveiled a record turnover of more than £41m for last year.

    In NSL’s latest accounts, Mr Syvret stated: “There is a local and national shortage for skilled tradesmen and management. While the company has been able to manage growth, that is becom-ing increasingly more difficult.

    “In addition, a large percentage of the white and blue collar work-force are at or near retirement age and it is becoming increas-ingly difficult to replace them with people of similar experience. That is why the company has been recruiting from overseas and recruiting apprentices.”

    However, he emphasised that there was no question that con-tracts would not be fulfilled. He said: “There is no question mark over delivering our contractual obligations. In times of peak demand we have used agencies to recruit foreign workers but this is a short-term solution. We are committed to training local people and in partnership with the Maritime and Engineering College are launching an apprentices programme.”

    He said 17 young people would be taken on in June with more in the future.

    Earlier this year, Mr Syvret said his shipyard would like to be involved in Ministry of Defence contracts for new aircraft carriers. He added: “If the MoD rang and asked if we could build an aircraft carrier, we would find it a challenge, so would anyone.

    “All I will say is we would never take on a contract we could not fulfil.”


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    In January, NSL revealed a £28m MoD contract expected to secure up to 350 jobs.

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    Still alive snappel's Avatar
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    I'm confused - they're saying there aren't enough skilled workers, and that as a consequence they're starting apprenticeships, but then they're saying they have to recruit from Poland. Surely there must be local youngsters that would be interested in an apprenticeship in shipbuilding?

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    Lech Walesa would be made up. He could never have figured in a million years that Gdansks loss would be our gain

    I suspect in this I want it now world, that learning youngsters new skills like this would be a process too slow to meet their demand - sad really as they should install apprenticeships if they are looking at the long term.
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    Senior Member HollyBlack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snappel View Post
    I'm confused - they're saying there aren't enough skilled workers, and that as a consequence they're starting apprenticeships, but then they're saying they have to recruit from Poland. Surely there must be local youngsters that would be interested in an apprenticeship in shipbuilding?
    They are recruiting young apprentices locally.

    But the older time-served tradesmen needed to train and supervise the apprentices who are working on the job have to come from Poland.

    I'm not saying it's true, I don't know it to be true, but it is what he is saying.

    And it sounds like ageism to me. Age should not ever be an issue, experience and union card should be the issue.
    Last edited by HollyBlack; 05-23-2008 at 07:20 AM.

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    In Poland the shipyards recruit from China and Korea, as all their skilled labour is over here. Fact!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyBlack View Post
    And it sounds like ageism to me. Age should not ever be an issue, experience and union card should be the issue.

    Not in the slightest - I think the point he was making is that a lot of the existing staff are near retiring age so will shortly be leaving the workforce and there are no replacements available.

    I left engineering 20 year ago - I was 57 earlier this week and have no interest in going back. Occasionally I do get offers, one every year or two - agencies and previous employers I've worked for still have me on their files. They ring up and ask if I'm working at the moment - I am. It's usually my wife who answers these calls but I caught one myself last year. What they are looking for is people to train the apprentices. They're so short of experienced staff they can't release anyone to do the initial training before they can join the other workers and train on the job.

    Being surprised that they've rung me - I don't know these people - I asked why. They are going through old files to identify anyone at all that might be suitable to take on training positions.

    Some employers might be taking advantage of current situations to take on Polish workers on low pay, but I think a lot of skilled engineering jobs have to be filled by economic immigrants. There really is no-one else available and apprenticeship schemes will take a lot of years to fill the void. More than just the training period - I reckon it takes 10 years experience on top of an apprenticeship to make a good engineer. It's an ongoing learning process that never ends.

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