Friday 23 August 2019

Can we fix it?: Retirees and women targeted by builders

New approach: Niamh Hamrock of the CQMS. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan Photography
New approach: Niamh Hamrock of the CQMS. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan Photography

Markus Krug

Recent retirees and women are being targeted for heavy plant machinery construction jobs as the building boom continues unabated.

Industry experts say there is a crisis in recruitment for machine operators, with an estimated 1,500 vacancies in the sector.

Brian Coogan, of the Construction and Quarry Machinery Show (CQMS), said technology has developed so muscle and brawn are not necessary.

"One manager rang me in sheer desperation that he can't get anyone to fill a particular role. With a salary of €50,000-plus he couldn't understand it. I told him to start thinking outside the box, stop looking at young, male candidates as his only option, to start looking at recruiting female and older candidates," he said.

"The job is not defined by whether the candidate is male/female, old/young.

"I know of a windfarm in Kerry, where they employed a man aged 71 on a 21-tonne digger. Another man in a quarry in Wicklow is in his 80s, driving a machine."

Construction worker Pat Kelleher (74)
Construction worker Pat Kelleher (74)

Mr Coogan said more Irish firms are looking to the example set by the likes of Western Australia and filling traditionally 'male roles' with female candidates.

"In Western Australia, they couldn't get enough people to work in the mines, where there was great money - up to $2,000 a week. They found that the female employees took better care of the equipment, were much more responsible," he said.

Other employers have had positive experiences with the new approach, such as Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae who employs 74-year-old Pat Kelleher in his construction business.

"We have had several people in our company who were retired and came back into the workforce. They are bringing a lot of wisdom and experience to the industry," said Mr Healy-Rae.

The CQMS show, which will feature talks from Construction Industry Federation director-general Tom Parlon and economist Jim Power, takes place in Punchestown, Co Kildare, on June 21 and 22.

Irish Independent

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