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Skills crisis down to mismanagement


You highlight the skills shortage and the decline in the number of applicants for civil engineering degree courses (NCE last week). Sadly, the current crisis comes as no surprise to those of us who have watched the profession mismanage itself over the past 30 years.

Among the trends have been:

lengineering employers happily keeping professional pay rates down in order to compete on price;

lthe wholesale abandonment of training on cost grounds in the hope of being able to 'buy in' staff trained elsewhere;

lrepeated and confusing changes in the entry requirements to the profession and;

lthe setting of excessively high qualification standards which have outstripped the requirements of other, better paid, professions.

It really will not do for ICE representatives like vicepresident Adrian Long to bemoan 'depressingly worrying trends'. The responsibility for these shameful trends lies fairly and squarely with the senior members of the Institution who have actively promoted these policies over the years.

It is now clear beyond a shadow of doubt that the application of these policies has been directly against the interests of most existing and potential civil engineers. The Institution needs to reflect on how many members it would retain in a world where it did not have a near- monopoly on professional qualifications.

Iain Forbes (M), 63 Braxted Park, London SW16 3AU

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