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Booming business in the Middle East and Canada helped UK contractor Carillion's construction services division boost its operating profit to £16.9M ($30M) in 2005 from £12.5M ($22.2M) in 2004.

This was on an increased turnover of £1.23bn ($2.1bn), up from £1bn ($1.8bn). There was a 15% increase in group turnover to £2.28bn ($4bn) but group pretax profits were down on the previous year's £66.8M ($119M) to £51.9M ($92M).

Success in the US in 2005 helped Balfour Beatty's civil and specialist engineering division more than triple its operating profits to £49M ($87M) in 2005 on a turnover of £1.37bn ($2.4bn). Group pre-tax profit was £134M ($225M) - up from £122M ($217M) in 2004.

The UK Royal Academy of Engineering has found that a third of engineering firms believe graduate skills deficiencies are making UK industry less competitive.

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