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Mature approach to skills shortage


Skills shortages will not jeopardise the £180bn transport plan if the managements of our consultants and contractors use a little imagination.

Presumably we are looking at a five to eight year bulge in work and it would be inefficient to try to train up more young graduate career civil engineers to cover this. However there are thousands of highly experienced engineers available in their 50s and early 60s about to retire or having just taken (early) retirement. Many would be happy to work for a few more years because they feel they can still contribute or they want to earn enough to give them more opportunities during, perhaps, 30 years of later retirement.

They would bring industry experience, best practice, intuition, confidence and competence. If they did not have experience of roads or railways, a short course could make them familiar with the specific technologies, specifications, rules, quality concerns, etc.

The only problem may be that they have already planned their retirements. Recruitment packages would have to take this into account. The home/job balance may have to move in the direction of home and job sharing could be explored.

Salaries should continue to reflect each engineer's contribution, but the overall cost may still be competitive as on-costs such as company pensions may not be needed.

Mature recruits could be on short term contracts with no redundancy pay.

How are we going to bring these freelance resources to those who need them? May I suggest that the ICE considers setting up a database of professionals and arranges training in the technology for those needing it.

Bob Cranmore (M), Lancing, Sussex,

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