MAJOR CONSTRUCTION clients - including the government - should plan construction work over longer periods to curb skills shortages during boom times, transport minister John Spellar said last week.
Wildly fluctuating cycles of construction activity produce peaks where it is difficult for the industry to recruit enough manpower.
The problem is worsened by slumps which force many construction workers and engineers into unemployment.
Spellar made his call at the launch of a new Institution of Civil Engineers skills initiative - Team Effort - aimed at turning around the present declining recruitment trend.
Doubts about job security put many people off joining the industry, said Spellar.
But by planning further ahead, major clients can make construction workload steadier and therefore easier for the industry to recruit.
Major clients, including government departments, bodies such as the Highways Agency and Railtrack, and principal privatesector players, should also be using best value procurement and partnering to 'strengthen commitment to appropriate training and qualifications', the report recommends.
At the same time, construction employers must address the skills shortage by introducing 'working patterns and benefits which are attractive to a wider cross section of people'.
Team Effort reports that job sharing yields higher productivity and greater commitment than conventional one person one job employment.