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Civil Engineering in the news today - Monday 16 February

GCSEs and A-Levels are failing to prepare young people for working life and the new diploma should 'be the qualification of choice' for school-leavers, according to an education minister...

...The diploma "replicates what happens in the business world" and would therefore "enable young people to be ready for the world of work, and make employers want to employ them", said Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the minister responsible - Financial Times

Public finances are set to be their worst since the end of the second world war, according to a forecast by the CBI, the employers’ organisation. The study suggests a far more dismal outlook for public borrowing than predicted by the Treasury. It underlines that the burden on taxpayers will be larger as the economy begins to recover from the recession, and that even more stringent or longer-term cutbacks in public spending and investment may be necessary - Financial Times

The collapse of Newcastle’s home-grown bank, Northern Rock, nationalised a year ago on Tuesday, was a financial canary in the credit coal mine – a harbinger of global market chaos. It threatened to mark out the city for another brutal bout of recession. The traumatic decline of heavy industry in the late 1970s and early 80s saw unemployment in some wards along the Tyne rise to 50 per cent. Memories of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, when unemployed miners and shipworkers marched to London to demand jobs, are never far below the surface. The city’s current mood is far from dejected, however - Financial Times

Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, is to step into the dispute over British jobs for UK workers today by announcing a review of how the country's engineering and construction industry can achieve higher productivity to beat off foreign competitors. The review will look at skill shortages in the British engineering construction industry - The Guardian

Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned. Soaring greenhouse gas emissions, driven by a surge in coal use in countries such as China and India, are threatening temperature rises that will turn damp and humid forests into parched tinderboxes, said Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN's Nobel prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - The Guardian

Britain's shortage of gas storage capacity is driving up wholesale prices, leaving businesses and consumers facing higher bills in the future, energy analysts have warned. Britain’s gas storage capacity is 4.3bn cubic metres, providing no more than 15 days of supply, against 99 days in France. The facility at Rough, 18 miles off the East Coast, accounts for most of it – 3bn cubic metres of the total – but it can pump only 45M cubic metres a day, meaning that in periods of peak demand the UK could run out of gas relatively quickly as demand outstripped supply - The Times

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