A CONTINUING shortage of skilled staff is impacting on shipbuilding and offshore construction projects throughout the UK and in Western Europe. But the CD Group, a Newcastle-based design consultancy and engineering services contractor, is facing up to the challenge.
It has adopted a range of measures to ensure the North-East doesn’t miss out on the significant opportunities now available.
A programme of graduate recruitment started 18 months ago and has led to more than a dozen young degree-qualified engineers being employed on CD’s design projects.
Most of these individuals have come from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities, and CD continues to develop links with these organisations for the future.
CD has also recently partnered with the new regional Marine Design Centre which it believes can assist greatly in providing training support, and encouraging more young people to enter the marine design industry.
In addition, CD is spearheading the drive to bring skilled people, originally trained in the traditional shipbuilding and offshore industries of the area, back to this region from other parts of the world where they dispersed to when those industries were in decline.
Peter Douglass, group managing director, said: “Staff numbers have now risen to 150, but even these numbers will not suffice if we wish to fully service the opportunities open to us in the marine and offshore sector today.
“We are also looking further afield for resources and have identified pockets of extremely highly-qualified people in places such as Romania.
“If we wish to keep control of the work in the UK, then we need to bring these people here or face the possibility that this work will be lost to the region.”
A relative newcomer to the CD group of companies is CD Associates, a quantity surveying practice formed in 2001.
The company provides commercial management, quantity surveying services and contractual dispute resolution expertise to a variety of clients in the construction industry.
These range from marine, oil and gas operations in South-East Asia, Spain, Holland and Norway to building, civil/M&E engineering, nuclear, defence and petrochemical contracting companies in the UK.
CDA employees have backgrounds covering a complete range of construction and engineering activities.
Staff are currently providing quantity measurement services to a Norwegian offshore drilling company based in Bergen, cost estimating expertise to a major Dutch marine organisation and bespoke quantity surveying services to the UK ship repair industry.
Gareth Weightman, CDA divisional manager, said: “The company continually receives notable interest from both domestic and international clients engaged in all aspects of construction.
“Recent enquiries for service provision have originated from Japan, Korea, Australia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.”