Steel firm Billington warns on skills shortage as orders reach five-year high

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STRUCTURAL steel group Billington Holdings warned there will be an industry wide shortage of skilled labour unless manufacturers step up their apprenticeship schemes.

Like many other manufacturers, Billington was forced to downsize its workforce during the slump, but now it is seeking to employ new people as it reports its strongest order book in five years.

Chief executive Steve Fareham said: “The industry wide issue is a lot of people have come out of the industry and won’t be coming back. There will be a skills shortage.

“We’ve got a strong apprenticeship programme going and a strong trainee scheme.”

He was speaking yesterday as the Barnsley-based company, which supplied the steel for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s award winning Stratford-upon-Avon theatre, announced ​adjusted pre-tax profits of £929,000 for the year to December 31, up from a loss of £133,000 the year before.

Revenue slipped 1.5 per cent to £37.6m.

Mr Fareham said the results were in line with current market expectations, although profits were more than double the original market expectations at the start of the 2013 financial year;

Billington reported a “significantly improved” performance from its structural steel business, which accounts for 84 per cent of group revenue.

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