Young Brits, it seems, just don’t want to be welders.
Billington Holdings is endeavouring to do all the right things, partnering with colleges and training providers, but still cannot find the welders, fabricators and technical staff that it needs within the UK.
In 2022, Billington’s staff numbers increased from 383 to 415 – a net addition of 32.
In the same year, 26 staff members were recruited from overseas.
Chief executive Mark Smith explained: “Billington, alongside the wider steel industry has struggled with the recruitment of sufficient skilled UK production and technical labour at its facilities in recent years, resulting in reduced capacity and under recovery of its overheads. In order to address these issues the group has both continued to train and develop skilled labour locally and has recruited skilled labour from overseas.
“Close relationships are being maintained with a number of local education providers, with continuing support being provided to both Barnsley College and the University of Sheffield Engineering Department. The company regularly attends educational career days, hosts school visits to its sites and seeks to develop talent from a young age with its range of internal training programmes across all departments of the business.”
He continued: “Billington remains in partnership with Betterweld, a specialist training provider, to provide fabrication/welding training at an external facility before being employed by the group. This partnership provides access to increased numbers of direct personnel on a consistent basis at its two Barnsley based facilities through a structured training and development programme.
“We continue to actively promote the company’s apprenticeship and graduate schemes in other areas, particularly focusing on technical staff. Additionally, Billington continues as an advocate, promotor and contributor to the British Constructional Steelwork Association’s CRAFT apprentice programme. The scheme has become an important path for the group to train, educate and progress structural steelwork fabricators.”
But still the company cannot get the new blood it needs from within the UK and it is forced to recruit overseas.
“Despite the continuing programmes to develop skilled personnel locally, it has become necessary for the group to recruit skilled labour from overseas in order to meet the shortfall in available skilled personnel and increase the production capacities of the company,” said the chief executive.
In 2022 Billington Holdings made a pre-tax profit of £5.8m (2021: £200K) on turnover up nearly 5% to £86.6m (2021: £82.7m). [See separate report here.]