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Harland and Wolff creating jobs as it secures contracts

 

By John Mulgrew

Former shipbuilding giant Harland and Wolff is currently hiring a range of staff to meet demand for new contracts, it has emerged.

The Belfast firm is hiring between 10 and 20 workers across a range of fields, as it ramps up fresh wind farm projects.

It's hiring a range of new posts to meet work demand for new projects which it's undertaking over the next few years.

Jobs include tower crane operators, pipe fitters and fabricators, planners, structural engineers, accountant and surveyors and welders.

It's understood the new posts relate to the company winning a major contract at the end of last year, to build 24 huge steel foundation jackets for an offshore wind farm company.

The project is expected to last for around 18 months.

Standing at 65 metres tall, and weighing more than 845 tonnes, the three-legged steel jacket structures are almost as prominent on the Belfast skyline as the famous Samson and Goliath cranes. At the time, the firm said the work could support 200 jobs.

Speaking at the time of the contract award, H&W chief executive Robert J Cooper said: "H&W is delighted to work with such a prestigious company as ScottishPower Renewables on a project of nationally significant importance."

The ScottishPower Renewables North Sea project, known as East Anglia One, is a £2.5bn offshore wind farm expected to generate 714MW of electricity when completed in 2020, enough to power 500,000 homes per year.

Its chief executive Keith Anderson said last year that "the facilities in Belfast are excellent for supporting offshore wind construction, as we experienced on our West of Duddon Sands project".

He added: "We hope that the successful delivery of this contract will lead to even more opportunities in the offshore wind industry for Belfast."

Earlier this month, Harland and Wolff said it hopes to be in the running for work as part of the Government's £1.25bn plan to build five new frigates.

It once employed 35,000 workers at its peak back in the 1920s, but now is down to a workforce of 115, and is primarily involved in maintenance and renewable energy contracts.

Last year it cut dozens of staff in an "unacceptable" period amid "difficult market conditions" which saw sales collapse and the firm posting losses of £6m. The shipbuilder, which constructed the Titanic, saw turnover dropping from £66.7m, to just £8.3m in the year ending December 31, 2016.

As a result Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries turned the previous year's £1m profit into an almost £6m loss.

The company said "in recognition of the very difficult trading conditions" the firm "further reduced its core employment in the second quarter of 2016".

It now has 115 staff, down from 170 at the end of the previous year. Speaking about one of its latest contracts, it said work will start on the assembly of 24 'jackets' for wind turbines in the third quarter of 2017.

"The main risks continue to be its ability to generate sufficient volumes of work and revenue to cover the underlying cost base, manage projects within budget and therefore generate a profit," the report said. "The very difficult trading conditions during 2016 meant that the company had a low level of revenue, and hence incurred a significant loss during the year, despite taking further actions to reduce its cost base.

"It is clear 2017 will again be a difficult and challenging year. To secure activity at the levels required, the company is monitoring the position so it can react quickly to changing circumstances."

Belfast Telegraph

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