THE HIGHWAYS Agency will demand guarantees from contractors and consultants that they will expand their workforces in return for guarantees of workload over the next five years.
Newly appointed Agency head of procurement Steve Rowsell fears that its construction programme and the proposals in the Government's 10 year transport plan could suffer if consultants and contractors are hit by looming skill shortages.
Rowsell confirmed that five year framework agreements with consultants and contractors would also demand high levels of training.
The Agency plans to give more work over a longer period to a limited group of contractors and consultants able to guarantee quality and capacity.
Rowsell confirmed that he was already in discussions with the industry to thrash out agreements with a select few.
'We've started to produce annual performance reviews of suppliers' work to identify whether they can give us what we are looking for in framework agreements, ' said Rowsell. 'We want fewer and better suppliers working for the Agency.'
The agreements are part of the Agency's drive to cut five years off the average 12 years it takes to build a road.