With a continuing lack of leadership at Stormont, and no hope of any imminent breakthrough, our industry, like many others, faces an uncertain future, with more cautious predictions for the economic outlook, following a period of optimism earlier in the year.
Even so, the industry still needs skilled workers and therein lies some concern. Skill shortages in some areas mean that employers simply may not have sufficient numbers with the right qualifications to deliver future construction projects.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the launch of a new National Construction Skills Academy to be based at Industry Training Services facilities in County Armagh. It will provide tuition across several trades including groundworks, joinery, bricklaying, plastering, tiling, structural steel erection and steel-fixing. (You can read more about it in this issue).
Also encouraging is seeing local employers such as Acheson & Glover, F P McCann, McQuillan Companies, Northstone, Quinn Group, Patrick Bradley Quarries and Tracey Concrete forming a partnership with the QPANI, South West College and Northern Regional College to develop a Construction Products Engineering Apprenticeship, an initiative to offer young people a unique opportunity to build a successful career in the industry. (More on this too in this issue)
So, the future is potentially bright: we just need to get the folks up on the hill to play their part, and to do it without any further delay.
To other matters now, and we have a comprehensive review of what was a very successful Plantworx 2017 which attracted over 360 exhibitors, more than 140 of them making their show debut. We also report from what was the third DemoExpo which was extended by another day at the request of many of the major manufacturers who attended the show, and we look forward to SteinExpo 2017, Europe’s largest demonstration exhibition for the building materials industry.
Meanwhile, congratulations are in order to the Institute of Quarrying which nationally is celebrating its centenary year. Numerous events have been arranged by each of the 13 branches, including the Northern Ireland branch, to celebrate this milestone.
In our ‘View from the Cab’ series, we report on a Kobelco SK350, a specially modified NC Engineering SW9 Dumper, and a Case CX26C mini excavator, all of which are earning their keep on various projects across the island of Ireland.
Finally, preparations continue for this year’s Plant & Civil Engineer ‘Plant, Construction & Quarry’ awards and we have a number of exciting new categories; you’ll find all you need to know elsewhere in this issue.
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download the July-Aug 2017 issue of Plant & Civil Engineer Magazine.