CAO countdown: ‘Things have picked up’ in construction

Trainee plumber looks forward to working in a rapidly expanding sector

When the bottom fell out of the construction industry, tradespeople such as plumbers, plasterers and builders were the first to lose their jobs.

Today, young trainees such as Peter Whittle (22) are finding work within a rapidly-expanding sector.He has spent four years working on-site, training with Solas and studying at the Cork Institute of Technology.

Whittle and other tradespeople are in demand. Last year, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs found the strongest growth in the skilled trades sector, with construction undergoing a 13 per cent increase in employment.

Whittle has worked for HA O'Neil, a division of the Jones Engineering Group, on commercial and industrial projects.


“Things have picked up a good bit over the last two years and they’ve picked up a lot recently with more jobs coming in,” he says. “It’s mainly industrial work, mostly big factories, doing heating systems and chilled water and that kind of stuff. But we do a bit of domestic work as well, so there’s a mix.

“The rates of pay are fairly good. You’re starting off at €5 an hour and then they start going up. You go up to €8 an hour and then to €12 an hour and €15 an hour. And when you are qualified you are on €21 an hour, so the money is good.”

The Jones Group has operations in Finland, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, "so there's the opportunity to work abroad with them when I'm qualified. Irish qualifications are recognised abroad, and we are well regarded for the quality of our work."

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times