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Call for crisis talks on skills shortage

CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS want crisis talks with the Government to look at ways of heading off mounting skill shortages.

The Construction Industry Council is seeking a meeting with representatives of the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions and the Department of Trade & Industry.

It is acting in the face of continued falls in the number of students starting civil engineering courses and fears that civils graduates are deserting the industry for high paid jobs in banking, IT and management consultancy.

New figures from the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service show that this year's intake of civil engineering students fell by 4.8% from 2,608 to 2,483.

This adds to a 40% drop in civil engineering applications between 1994 and 1999. Applications for Higher National Diplomas and Higher National Certificates are down from 180 to 148.

The figures throw into question the industry's ability to deliver the Government's long term investment agenda including the 10 year transport plan.

At the same time the National Construction Careers Group has evidence that growing numbers of civil engineering graduates are leaving the industry.

It said the industry was losing graduates to the buoyant merchant banking, IT and management consulting sectors.

These are now said to be offering graduates starting salaries of between £30,000 and £35,000.

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