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NE multi-million-pound maintenance business plugs the skills-gap with older workers - April 2017

A County Durham maintenance and specialist repair company is calling on older workers to consider the sector when job-hunting as shortages and recruitment issues continue to hinder development.

Darlington-based Stone Technical Services (STS) has started its 2017 period of recruitment thanks to its most successful year in its 19-year history and has already this year appointed two new members of staff aged over 45.

Gary Meredith, 56, has joined STS as a lightning conductor engineer and tester, while Anthony Black, 49, has been appointed to a new role of group compliance manager working across all five of STS’s divisions- STS RopeSpec, STS Lightning Protection, STS Restoration, STS Maintenance and Facilities Management and STS Conservation- to ensure the highest quality and standards across the group as the business grows.

Recent research from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), of which STS is a member, has revealed that skills shortages in the sector have worsened in the last year despite the sector experiencing continued growth.

In addition, earlier this year (February) the Government called for businesses to increase the number of older people in the workforce to combat age bias and increase skills bases.

STS announced its most successful year to date at the end of 2016, revealing a 20% year-on-year growth. The company has seen its turnover increase from around £2 million to over £3 million in the last 12 months and staff numbers are now approaching 50. The company plans to grow further this year as it continues to high profile restoration, maintenance and steeplejacks projects for the likes of the York City Council, Highland Council in Scotland, Newcastle City Council, York Museums Trust, MITIE, the National Trust, the Royal Courts of Justice and Westminster Central Hall.

However, the business continues to be affected by a major skills gap in the sector with a lack of experienced workers in heritage, lightning protection and high level maintenance.

MD of STS, Dave Stone, explained: "Our industry continues to suffer from a lack of skilled workers and young people choosing the sector as a career. Hence, we've changed our recruitment process a little, in line with Government plans. We’re saying that it's never too late to join a company like ours. We have lots of opportunities and are keen to attract those who are happy to re-train, have specific skills or want to learn something new.

"Of course, we continue to encourage young people to choose the sector as a career option as there are lots of job opportunities and we have a number of apprentices working with us. We’re very proud of our workforce which is a diverse mix of very experienced individuals, like Anthony and Gary, and young people just starting their careers."

Darlington brothers, Dave and Grahame Stone, established Stone Technical Services in 1998 and now have offices in Edinburgh city centre, near Stockport in Cheshire and in central London as well as their HQ on Kellaw Road in Darlington

NE multi-million-pound maintenance business plugs the skills-gap with older workers