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Emigration is over for builders, says CIF's Tom Parlon

The days of Irish construction workers having to leave the country to find work are over, said Construction Industry Federation (CIF) director general Tom Parlon.

The former Minister of State at the Department of Finance was in Galway yesterday to officially launch the Castle Ceilings Interior Systems Traineeship programme in Ballybrit.

Mr Parlon urged construction workers to avail of the 80 positions the programme offers this year, which give the opportunity to up-skill and gain employment in different areas.

The new scheme is being run by the Galway Roscommon Training Education Board and the Castle Ceilings and Partitions firm in conjunction with CIF in order to get building workers back into employment.

And with people in the industry becoming up-skilled, Mr Parlon believes it provides them the option to work in their own country as well as to travel abroad.

"No, you don't have to leave Ireland for a job any more. It's great to have the option now," he said. "The good thing about construction skills is it's a passport to travel. And lots of young people have had to leave the country.

"I have two kids myself, and one of them is in Australia, and the other is in Los Angeles. They have chosen to go. They both had jobs here but wanted to see the world and get an experience.

"But if you are a skilled ceiling and partition fitter here, the same work is available in New York, Australia, anywhere in the world now. It's the same high-end fit-outs that are being done everywhere."

Seamus Brady set up Castle Ceilings and Partitions in 1999. It now employ 200 workers and 27 sales and administration staff members.

Upon completion of the seven-week off-site and 36-week on-site training programme, participants will have earned a City & Guilds Level 2 diploma in interior systems construction.

Mr Parlon it's the perfect chance for workers to take advantage of the current surge in demand for office space.

"Currently in Dublin there are 400,000 square metres of office space being built, which in agricultural terms is the equivalent of 100 acres.

"Every floor has a ceiling and there is a lot of partitions so there is a massive amount of work coming down the tubes.

"It takes hands on deck work, there is nothing automated about doing that," he said.

Irish Independent