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No shortage of willing workers

LETTERS

Sir, We hear constantly about the skills shortage in the construction industry.

It is often used to explain why contracts fall behind schedule and to justify many of the perceived ills in our business, including delayed starts and spiralling costs.

In the north, builders who say they cannot get staff could blame the drift to the prosperous south for their woes.

When the International Olympic Committee announced that London would stage the Games in 2012, a rumour spread like wildfire around Tyneside that construction in the north-east would grind to a halt as tradesmen and labourers swarmed to the honeypot that Olympic construction projects would create.

But as one of the major construction industry labour suppliers in the north of England, we are seeing little of this dearth in willing workers.

We are getting all the people through the door that we need.

If we get the jobs, we can fill them. In the trades and labour sector we can state confidently that, unless a major site opens unexpectedly, we can meet the demand.

Apart from occasional pressure in filling vacancies in the wet trades ? bricklaying and plastering ? our experience is that the supply is available.

There has been a shortage for many years in the professional ranks ? architects, surveyors and construction managers. But it is no good wringing our hands and bemoaning the situation as if it is inevitably going to continue. What is being done to address it?

That is the issue. I know that Richard Humphrey, incoming chairman of the Chartered Institute of Building in the north-east, wants to raise the image of the construction industry to attract younger professionals and we will be working hand in hand with him to achieve this.

But, while the quantity of staff in the trades and labour sector does not present a massive problem, we have to work to improve the quality.

Retaining our best people is crucial if we are to ride the peaks and troughs of the supply market.

Kevin Kinnon Managing director Protech Human Resourcing Newcastle upon Tyne