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Industry blamed for graduate shortage

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CONSTRUCTION'S FAILURE to forge close links with academia has contributed to declining numbers of civil engineering students, a senior engineering academic said last week.

Arup director Richard Haryott is immediate past chairman of the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM), which accredits university civil and structural engineering courses. He accused employers of reluctance to release staff to work with the JBM and said too few employers forge links with universities.

Haryott was speaking at a debate entitled 'The construction industry does not take training and development seriously' at last week's Civils 2002 event in Birmingham.

Arguing against the motion, Nuttall recruitment and training manager Bob Devonshire said contractors were increasing their emphasis on training under pressure from clients.

Carillion Infrastructure services managing director Rowan Sharples agreed. He gave the example of the Highways Agency which now puts an 80% weighting on quality when assessing bids for term maintenance contracts.

Speaking from the floor, Barhale human resources manager Patrick Owen attacked some major contractors for failing to live up to training promises made to new recruits.

He said that graduates working for one multi billion pound turnover major contractor got the impression that only by threatening to resign would they be put onto its ICE accredited training scheme.

Arguing for the motion Roger Bullivant chairman Roger Bullivant said that civil engineering training lacked focus, with the result that many graduates drifted into professions like banking and accountancy.

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