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Industry 'honey pot' aims to beat skills shortage

A SPONSORSHIP 'honey pot' to attract the best young people into civil engineering and beat the skills shortage has been agreed at an industry summit.

It is hoped the fund will give students a first port of call for opportunities to gain sponsorship and work experience through college.

The fund was agreed by key players from the industry, professional institutions and academia who came together at a joint Construction Industry Training Board/Construction Industry Council summit to review education and training needs and set targets for improvements.

A working group set up this week will organise a national campaign to publicise the new fund over Easter, in time to influence the 2001/02 university intake. Details of sponsorship deals will be available via a webbased knowledge centre by late summer.

The working group will lobby the Government, the European Union and the Engineering Council for funding, as well as construction firms. It is hoped to take the number of sponsored places available well beyond their suggested target of 100.

Calls for the initiative to be benchmarked against other professions were cautiously approved.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers offers 21 major award schemes annually worth £242,000. This dwarfs the Institution of Civil Engineers' QUEST scheme, which makes around 40 awards totalling £55,000.

The IMechE can also already boast a magazine providing exactly the sort of sponsorship information that the construction honey pot would provide.

Delegates also reviewed university course content, promotion of engineering in schools and the training of more graduates with non-construction degrees. Progress reports will be delivered to the Department for Education & Employment in June.

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