Construction firms are hiring

  • Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, welcomed tradespeople to the construction workers’ seminar (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
  • More than 100 tradespeople attended a seminar to learn more about work opportunities at the new St Regis Resort development in the East End (Photograph by Erica Smith, BEDC)
  • Laura Purroy, general manager of Hotelco Bermuda Holding, provided a project update, outlined construction timelines and answered questions (Photograph by Erica Smith, BEDC)

Stoppage of work on a new hotel development at Morgan’s Point has slowed a boom in the construction industry, the president of the island’s trade association has said — but not stopped it.

Charles Dunstan, president of the Construction Association of Bermuda, said: “Prior to the stoppage at Morgan’s Point, we all seemed to be pretty busy.”

Mr Dunstan said some in the industry felt business was slower but he said “for the most part, it seemed that construction was booming” and firms were hiring.The head of construction firm Kaissa admitted the Morgan’s Point stoppage “had put a kink in some of that growth”.

But Mr Dunstan said this month that the Caroline Bay project, the airport redevelopment and the work on the St Regis Resort in the East End had brought much needed stability to the sector.

Mr Dunstan was speaking to The Royal Gazette after a Wednesday information session on work opportunities at the new St Regis Resort in St George’s was attended by more than 100 tradespeople.

The session provided an update on work done to date, future opportunities and advice on how to prepare for a jobs fair organised by St George’s developer Hotelco Bermuda Holding on April 25.

One subcontractor, who asked not to be named, said the seminar at the Bermuda Industrial Union was a positive development for Bermuda.

He said he was pleased to see that smaller businesses were included and likely to get work “along with the usual suspects”.

The seminar was a joint effort by Hotelco Bermuda Holding, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Workforce Development and the Construction Association of Bermuda.

Another woman, who attended on behalf of her business partner, said the seminar was “extremely useful”.

She said her partner had just started the company and that they would be taking advantage of BEDC’s offer to help small companies prepare for the fair.

She added: “That’s what we need to get started. Our main aim is to get out there and produce quality work.

“We are hoping that this will put us out there, get people to know us and get them to see the kind of work that he does.”

Laura Purroy, general manager of Hotelco Bermuda Holding, explained that the development was in the foundation and piling phase with 112 out of 145 piles completed.

Ms Purroy said site workers would now move on to the foundations and begin work on buildings, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and finishing work, façade, mill work and landscaping.

She also outlined how many people would be needed for each of the areas and when work would be likely to start.

Ms Purroy said the job fair at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s was designed so that Hotelco could meet potential subcontractors and individuals interested in working on the project.

She added: “It’s not about getting a job that day — it’s for this company to understand what is the universe of workers that we have in order for us to reach out to you and say this is what we need, participate.”

Mr Dunstan said he hoped people would use the information provided at the seminar to prepare for and attend the job fair.

William Spriggs, BEDC director of economic and co-operative development, said the quango was pleased at the turnout for the information session — more than double what was predicted.

He added: “We knew it would be well received — people have been asking about construction projects, especially with Morgan’s Point on hold.”

He said smaller contractors who had not submitted portfolios before were keen to learn more about the process, while bigger contractors were keen to make contact with Ms Purroy.

Construction figures

Bermuda’s construction industry has seen nine quarters of consecutive growth, according to the Quarterly Bulletin of Statistics for the third quarter of 2017.

Employment income figures for 2015 stood at $108.936 million — the lowest number in more than a decade — and 2016 saw an increase to $115.269, with the trend for 2017 on course to be higher still.

But numbers still fell short of the figures in the run-up to 2008, which saw employment income reach a peak of more than $200 million before plummeting to $113.943 million in 2012.

The second quarter of 2017 saw the highest value of new projects, totaling $515.4 million. The total for 2016 stood at $96.3 million and the total for 2015 was $161.8 million.