Brickies can earn £1,000 a week - and firm can’t find enough of them

BUSY TIMES: Simon Hamilton (left) managing director of UK Steel Enterprise, with Steve Willis
BUSY TIMES: Simon Hamilton (left) managing director of UK Steel Enterprise, with Steve Willis

A BUILDING services company is being forced to turn away lucrative contract offers because of a shortage of bricklayers.

But Hartlepool-based Brickwork Services is working flat out and doing all it can to train local apprentices and unemployed people as well as to attract qualified bricklayers so that the company can continue to expand.

Once qualified, the company says they would have the opportunity to earn considerably more than the £1,000 per week figure quoted recently for Portugese bricklayers working in London.

Brickwork Services, which expanded last year thanks to an investment from UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, already provides work for more than 130 bricklayers on contracts across the North East.

Managing director Steve Willis said: “The construction sector has been growing fast and all the signs are that there will be further massive growth in 2015.

“We are starting major contracts on eight new sites in January alone and just one of our clients is expecting to have more than 20 new sites established in the first half of the year.

“We expect others to follow suit and we have been struggling to find the skilled workers we need for some time. We are doing everything we can to find skilled bricklayers but also to attract apprentices, the unemployed, Army personnel coming back into civilian life or anyone looking to learn a skill that will bring them a good financial reward for their hard work.

“We have some bricklayers currently earning considerably more than £1,000 a week so it is a real opportunity for the individual and an ideal situation for us if we can expand our skilled team by creating job opportunities for local people and grow the business further.”

With the help of a partnership with NCT Training, Brickwork Services is providing on-site training for apprentices and currently has about 22 working with the company. It provides bricklaying and building services to the construction sector and has contracts worth millions of pounds, guaranteeing work for the next few years.

It has also established Pro-Active Safety Solutions, a separate company that provides consultancy and training.

Last year, UK Steel Enterprise gave Brickwork Services a £50,000 unsecured loan towards a £100,000 expansion project that created around 40 jobs.

“That investment was very important,” said Steve. “We had found it impossible to get the finance we needed from other sources – no one was interested because, despite our very healthy order book, we are involved in the construction sector. “We are now growing so fast that we are likely to be looking for further investment so that we can continue to expand.”