Skilled staff shortages

Painters and joiners could be retrained by the council as it looks to fill vacancies left due to other skilled workers being snapped up by the private sector.

This was the situation explained by the director of infrastructure services Maggie Sandison fol­low­ing a meeting of the harbour board yesterday.

Mrs Sandison had told members that skilled workers were being lost in harbour and port operations due to the demand from the private sector.

Maggie Sandison said they could look at having to
Maggie Sandison said they could look at having to “skill up” existing staff.

Afterwards Mrs Sandison ex­plain­ed marine engineers are head­ing into offshore work and engineers and electricians were being attracted to the oil and gas industry.

She said the lack of skilled workers was having an impact right “across the directorate” even down to carrying out repair work on lampposts. Infrastructure services covers areas such as ferries, harbour and ports and roads.

“What we’re having to look at now is if we can skill up existing staff,” said Mrs Sandison. “We are looking at painters and joiners to see if they can take on potential skills but obviously that’s not a quick fix.”

In a report to members, Mrs Sandison also spoke about a drop in overtime costs because of the reduction in staff. She explained afterwards that staff were already being worked as much as they could.

During the meeting, councillor Amanda Westlake asked whether workers could be offered more over­time as opposed to turning to the private sector. She suspected that using contractors to carry out work was “quite expensive”.

Mrs Sandison said an assessment of costs would be carried out to compare in-house work to looking elsewhere.

She explained contractors do not have to be paid all year round, however they were also charging to make a profit. Key skills were in electrical and engineering skills, she said.

But she added: “There’s such a demand I don’t think we can actually compete with the private sector at this time.”

• Full report of SIC harbour board meeting in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Graeme Mclellan

    • March 10th, 2014 14:45

    This article is misleading for blaming private sector compitition on the skills shortages! It should be pointed out that there has been staff in this exact sector that have left the council due to the way they were treated under single status. The private sector might look attractive, but if the council are threatening 20% pay cuts under single status and no cost of living pay rises for the forseeable future, it dosn’t leave people with much option.

  • iantinkler

    • March 10th, 2014 15:46

    SIC should save itself a fortune, just sub contract. Free enterprise as opposed to unionised labour with all that entails.

  • Neil Anderson

    • March 10th, 2014 20:34

    Council wages are very poor for some workers , mainly the tradesman unlike the overpaid teachers and management !

    • George Kippets

      • March 12th, 2014 10:56

      The real scandal in Shetland is private sector wages – they’re often 10 or 15% lower than identical jobs on the mainland, probably because employers know that Shetlanders aren’t going to up sticks and move away. And then you have the higher cost of living on top of that…. If you’ve ever wondered who can afford all the big houses being built, the answer is the tight-fisted, skinflint local employers! Those houses are built on the backs of Shetland workers!

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 13th, 2014 21:05

        power to the people comrade kippets, I think you will find that wages in Shetland are comparable to Aberdeen and even higher in some cases. In fact employers are more likely to put up with below standard work from employees because of the difficulty in finding replacement staff. But don’t let me stop your ranting the wife and I like a good laugh.

  • IanTinkler

    • March 12th, 2014 20:45

    George Kippets, If it is so bad, set up your own firm. Pay the higher wages yourself. I am sure you will recruit plenty of workers. Be the perfect boss, less moaning and do something for Shetland workers.

    • George Kippets

      • March 13th, 2014 13:46

      What do you mean, “IF it is so bad”? Are you disputing that wages are lower in Shetland than on the mainland despite the cost of living being higher? Are you really that out of touch?

      I suppose as a sooth-moother and a Tory you’d be happiest if we were all serfs on the truck system working for the laird.

      • Charlie Banham - Cullivoe

        • March 14th, 2014 12:27

        George – please give respect and credibility to everything that Ian says and writes.
        He is after all-knowing and his expertise in all matters should never be questioned by mere mortals such as us
        The man is pure genius. – Hat’s off to Maggie Thatcher she taught Ian well

        There is one thing though that he must accept:

        Those That Can – DO!
        Those That CAN’T – CRITICISE

        And that is all he seems to do

  • IanTinkler

    • March 13th, 2014 18:35

    George I disputed nothing of what you said, just pointed out the obvious. I will rephrase so you can understand. If you feel the situation is wrong, do something about it instead of moaning about it. Perhaps, set up your own firm. Pay the higher wages yourself. Can you understand that? Your following comments and attempts to insult were fun, again for your information, I was unaware I was a Tory, that was news to me. Now as for me being a “sooth-moother” that comment speak volumes about your personality and prejudices. I thank you for that, very enlightening.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • March 15th, 2014 10:03

    Those That Can – DO!
    Those That CAN’T – CRITICISE
    Does that apply to you also, Charlie Banham ? and all your cyberNAT friends?


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