National Construction Week is growing by the year and with skill shortages continuing to bite it has never been more important for the industry to get behind it. Damian Arnold reports.
The start of another university year is likely to spark more concern about the lack of school leavers joining civil engineering courses. National Construction Week (NCW) has never been more important.
And a construction industry riven by skills shortages seems to be getting the message. This year's Week which kicks off today is twice the size of last year's with 840 events.
NCW is represented from the Shetlands Islands to Penzance and is launching for the first time in Northern Ireland. As expansion goes it is pretty impressive and a testament to the £400,000 investment from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) since it took over organising the event two years ago.
'We are only the facilitators for others to get involved and the response has been brilliant, ' says the CITB's NCW co-ordinator Paul Bower. 'Big firms such as British Airways and Ikea which are very choosy about lending their brands have put their names to it this time.'
Bowers can boast managing the 'new romantic' pop band ABC in the 1980s and marketing the Millennium Dome in the 90s among his achievements, but he cites NCW as one of his biggest challenges.
But he is delighted at the contribution from civil engineering firms this year. For example, senior directors from Arup who advised the government on an Olympic bid for London will be helping three schools on the London Olympic Stadium Challenge. The students will locate a site and work on a design for an 80,000 seater stadium for London's 2012 Olympic bid, also looking at issues such as transport accessibility. They will each do a pitch to a panel of experts.
'The advantage we have now is that there are so many exciting buildings going up that civil engineers play a key role in. This can help us promote construction related professions into the minds of young people as exciting and prestigious.'