WOMEN and recent retirees are now being targeted for heavy plant machinery construction jobs as the building boom continues unabated.
With all building activity in Ireland up 10.1pc year on year, industry experts have said that 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 said that technology has developed so quickly that muscle and brawn are not necessary attributes for the job.
“One manager rang me in sheer desperation that he can’t get anyone to fill a particular role. With a salary of €50,000+ 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 candidates,” he told independent.ie.
“I don’t believe carrying bricks or blocks is beyond the scope of women.
“But (plant operator jobs) are not so much about strength, it’s about capability and ability to understand technology.
“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-years-old on a 21 tonne digger.
“Another man in a quarry in Wicklow is in his 80s, driving a machine.”
Mr Coogan said that more Irish firms are looking to the example set by the likes of Western Australia, and fill 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. A lot of young girls, in their late teens and early 20s, applied for jobs.
“They found that the female employees took better care of the equipment, were much more responsible. This is very important in terms of an asset that is worth hundreds of thousands of euro.
“It’s more about the technology than the grunt of lifting heavy machines,” he added.
Mr Coogan said that they will have a simulator in situ at an event in Punchestown, Co Kildare between June 21 to 22.
The CQMS show – which will feature talks from Construction Industry Federation Tom Parlon and economist Jim Power - will offer buyers and sellers an opportunity to see the latest equipment from Irish dealers, distributors and manufacturers as well as connect potential employees with employers.