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Employment issues
Sky-high salaries for airport construction workers

Work on the new Terminal Five (T5) at London's Heathrow Airport is highlighting the severe skills shortage in the construction sector

With an estimated cost of some £4 billion, T5 is one of the biggest construction projects in Europe. It will boast 110 aircraft stands, 40,000 car parking spaces, 18 conveyor belts, the tallest control tower in the country and hundreds of shops by the time it is completed in 2011.

New roads and rail links will serve the terminal, which is set to house British Airways' entire Heathrow operation. In the process, more than 50,000 people will have been provided with well-paid jobs for the best part of a decade.

But there is at present - as all career advisers will be aware - a serious skills shortage in the construction industry.

This has led BAA, the company that operates Heathrow, to join the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to set up the Heathrow Construction Centre to train young people in carpentry, joinery and bricklaying.

The most highly skilled builders are in such demand that they command sky-high salaries, while talk of even 17 year-old bricklayers earning more than £55,000 a year has wheelbarrow loads of would-be recruits hammering on the doors of the training centre. There are already 80 16-18 year-olds developing their skills at the centre, and there are plans to expand.

"Young people see there is good money, if they've got the right skills," says David Boyer of the LSC. "Many 16 year-olds look around and don't see anything they want to do and so are falling out of education. The key is finding something that they want to do and that employers will pay for...and construction fits the bill perfectly."

Apart from young people, the building of T5 is attracting builders from across the world. Caravan sites have sprung up near the terminal site, housing workers who have come from as far away as Russia and Finland. The conditions are basic, and cold in winter, but the Mercedes and BMW cars parked outside the caravans are evidence of why people are coming.

"It's definitely worth it," says one happy T5 camper. "Even unskilled workers are getting between £700 and £1,000 a week."

We should add, however, that the airport authorities are trying to ensure that T5 employs locals, and there is hope that the project could benefit the area for many years to come. When the project is finished, many of the current crop of trainees are likely to use their T5 earnings to set up their own construction companies...which might be good news if you happen to be looking for a bricklayer or carpenter no sooner than 2011.

T5 recruitment (in association with Jobcentre Plus)

If you have clients interested in construction employment opportunities at Heathrow Terminal 5, call the Construction Freephone number: 0800 032 0043.

The Freephone is linked to a T5 recruitment database, where details are logged of those expressing interest in construction related trades. T5 contractors then access the database to recruit for their particular needs.

Alternatively, ask your clients to email the following details:
telephone number
trade or vacancy interested in
to: and their application will be processed by Jobcentre Plus.





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