Business

National Construction Skills Academy opens in Portadown

Industry Training Services managing director Brendan Crealey launching the National Construction Skills Academy in Portadown
Industry Training Services managing director Brendan Crealey launching the National Construction Skills Academy in Portadown Industry Training Services managing director Brendan Crealey launching the National Construction Skills Academy in Portadown

A NEW construction training academy has been opened in Portadown to plug the growing skills gap in the building sector.

The National Construction Skills Academy (NCSA) is based at the Industry Training Services (ITS) centre on the Derryneskan Road and will provide tuition across several trades including groundworks, joinery and bricklaying.

It has been established following a succession of industry reports highlighting a growing skills shortage across the sector in the years since the economic downturn.

There are currently around 30,000 people employed in the Northern Ireland construction sector, compared to almost 47,000 in 2007.

The shortfall in tradesmen comes as workloads are predicted to increase across Ireland and the UK over the coming years.

The Academy is a sister company to ITS, which provides health and safety training to firms in the construction, civil engineering and utilities sectors, among others.

ITS managing director Brendan Crealey said the new venture comes on the back of huge demand from his client base of more than 3,500 firms for additional training.

"ITS has been providing health and safety training solutions for the construction industry for more than 15 years, delivering around 50,000 qualifications," he said.

"We work with many leading building firms and they have been telling us a lack of training provision is a major concern for the trade."

The economy is still recovering from the recession and annual growth rates of 1.6 per cent in the construction sector are forecast over the next four years, while several major infrastructure projects are planned in the UK, such as HS2.

"With increasing workloads, however, comes the need for additional labour and that is a gap we are aiming to fill," Mr Crealey added.

The Academy will initially provide courses in general groundworks - a new qualification for the industry - with further programmes to be added over the coming months.