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Engineering skill in short supply


Sir, The engineering industry is at crisis point because of an extreme skills shortage and it is time to stop waiting for someone else to sort out the problem.

I am the managing director of a Liverpool-based M&E engineering consultancy and there are simply not enough home-grown apprentices coming through for smaller companies to compete for major contracts.

I am struggling to get the quality staff I need because older apprentices are being poached by large national companies and there are not enough skilled workers to go around.

For example, smaller eng ineering firms have struggled to win large chunks of work as part of the massive £920 million Paradise Street project in Liverpool because the skills are not in place for a project of this scale. We could have easily done bits of the work.

After all, projects such as this are supposed to benefit local businesses.

If we get youngsters interested and can get companies on board to create a larger pool of qualified people they would be in a stronger position to challenge for major contracts such as Paradise Street.

I have decided to tackle the problem head-on by joining my local committee of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers specifically to help raise the educational opportunities and standards locally.

I have made a start by joining forces with Liverpool Community College in a bid to bring on the next generation of mechanical and electrical engineers.

The college currently has an HNC course in Building Services Engineering and an HND course filled entirely by trainees from contractor Haden Young.

My intention is to set up another HND course by encouraging local companies to commit to sending people to the college.

We would need about 20 pupils a year to sustain the course.

I will be sending out a questionnaire to consulting engineers and contractors in the region, asking them to support the initiative and to find out how many trainees they would be willing to send each year or every two years to the course.

The industry will only survive if it recruits and trains fresh blood.

It is time for everyone to come together and invest in training so we can keep this great, highly-skilled industry ? and our businesses ? alive and thriving.

Steven Hunt Managing director Steven Hunt & Associates Liverpool