Firm’s struggle to find skilled workers revealed 
as new report launched

(l-r) Rob Stevens, author of the Solent Maritime report, Clive Johnson, managing director of Magma Structures with the Minister of Portsmouth Michael Fallon during the visit.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14143-1246) PPP-140415-171815001
(l-r) Rob Stevens, author of the Solent Maritime report, Clive Johnson, managing director of Magma Structures with the Minister of Portsmouth Michael Fallon during the visit.''Picture: Sarah Standing (14143-1246) PPP-140415-171815001
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THE man in charge of one of the area’s most rapidly-growing firms has welcomed a report aimed at boosting jobs – but says it’s a struggle to find skilled workers.

Clive Johnson, the managing director of Portchester-based Magma Structures, said his company is recruiting every day but found it difficult to build its team.

It comes after the minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, visited the city again this week to unveil a report into the area’s maritime future.

As reported in The News, part of the report recommends measures be taken to improve the number of skilled workers in the region and boost job opportunities.

Magma started two years ago with just four people, and now employs more than 120 skilled workers.

Mr Johnson told The News: ‘We really have struggled to get a team this skilled together today and to find people with the enthusiasm to work.

‘Everything we do is specialist and we expect only the highest quality.

‘It is difficult to do and we need talented people. We need talented engineers and they are hard to find.’

The report, commissioned by Mr Fallon and compiled by Rear-Admiral Rob Stevens, was launched at the headquarters of Magma Structures in Portchester.

Mr Johnson escorted the minister and other guests on a tour around their waterside facilities at Trafalgar Wharf.

Mr Johnson added: ‘There are some great initiatives in this report. We need to see these things being delivered in the next 12 months.’

More than 120 people are employed at Magma’s base in the manufacturing of large, complex, composite structures.

Magma employs skilled and qualified designers, engineers, manufacturers, and project managers with experience in marine, oil and gas, wind energy, aerospace, and public art industries.

Parts of the tour took place behind closed doors, as the company has a number of confidential orders.

Mr Fallon said: ‘My tour of Magma Structures gave me real optimism for the future.

‘It is second to none in its field – a hi-tech, fast-growing, enterprising company that can help the Solent’s marine and maritime industry to become world beating.

‘The report sets out a route to delivering jobs and growth in this key sector across the Solent by upgrading transport, investing in Portsmouth and Southampton and improving research and development.’

Minister commissioned the ‘blueprint’ for businesses

THE maritime task force report contains a number of initiatives which are specifically aimed at benefitting the Portsmouth area.

It includes plans for a £10.5m raft of improvements to be made at the city’s port, to facilitate the arrival of larger container and cruise ships.

It would also see the creation of a Portsmouth Marine Enterprise Hub, which would need £1.5m of funding and would lead to 500 jobs over 10 years, an extra £200,000 to help the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust’s ambition to transform one of its oldest buildings into a boatbuilding workshop, and an £8m bid for funding to help Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie set up a base in the city.

Crucially for firms like Magma Structures which are looking to recruit more skilled workers, the report also recommends the construction of a satellite to the National Composites Centre, a research and development facility which would explore the types of materials used by Magma.

Minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon said the report would act as a new blueprint for business and jobs growth in the Portsmouth

area.

It will sit alongside the work already done by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership as part of an effort to win funding from the

government.

n You can read a copy of the report online by visiting solentlep.org.uk.