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Build an industry that will attract ambitious youth

Letters

Sir, How bemused I was to read the results of a national poll by Learn-direct of the most soughtafter vocations by boys aged 16 in 2002. It positioned engineers, bricklayers and electricians in second, eighth and 10th place respectively.

Compare this with Brian Wilson's statement a day later, saying the construction industry needs 380,000 new recruits over the next five years.

One would assume that the two things would immediately combine to the benefit of both parties. So, how as an industry do we explain the acute shortage of staff that is written about so often?

At 16, GCSE choices have long been determined, so with the relative flexibility of post-16 education, the ambitions of most 16-year-olds should still be quite achievable.

Clearly something is preventing these youngsters from entering the industry. Could today's teenagers be used to more luxury than previous generations and are deterred by unwelcoming site conditions?

Are they put off by the poor reputation of construction that they view on their televisions, or do they simply want a career that offers a rewarding career path and a happy, safe environment within which to realise their aims?

Maybe it all comes down to influence from their parents, teachers or others that advise them on a suitable career.

Indeed, if our youth of today cites just one of the above problems as a barrier to entry, who can blame them?

I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but isn't it time we realised as an industry that such eventualities cannot be allowed to continue?

The ambition is there. We just need to make sure that today's teenagers become tomorrow's construction professionals.

Brian Moone Director, Construction Best Practice Programme