A levels are getting easier.
Universities are failing to deliver the quality of graduates that industry demands.
Professional engineers don't have the depth of knowledge that they had in the past. True?
Perhaps it is. There are certainly many people within the profession who believe we are heading for a crisis in civil engineering as clients increasingly turn to other professions for the advice they need.
And there continues to be a real fear that we are not attracting the right quality of young people into the profession. The best graduates, we hear, head for greater reward and career prospects in the City, in law or in management consulting.
Without doubt we need to do far more to make the profession a first choice career for the best young people. Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review next week is likely to set out big plans for public spending.
It should underline how the government is finally starting to understand that developing the nation's infrastructure is vital to underpinning economic growth in the future.
Yet if the civil engineering profession is to be at the centre of this long awaited delivery then we must ensure that the talent is available and properly trained to tackle the task ahead.
Of course, we already see a remarkable number of highly talented young people begin careers in civil engineering each year.
Launched this week, the 2004 Graduate Awards are designed to recognise, celebrate and reward this talent. Each year we try to identify the best young graduates entering the profession to remind the whole industry of what we have in our midst.
Rather than worrying about standards dropping, or about where the future engineering stars will come from, we must take this opportunity to embrace and reward the talent we have.
So are you the next big thing in civil engineering? Do you know the next big thing? If so get hold of an entry form today.
This is the seventh year of the awards and the competition gets more and more intense each year. As a judge I am increasingly aware of how difficult it is to hone down the field and select the finalists, let alone pick a winner.
This year we are refining the judging process to give candidates more opportunity to express themselves and more credit for doing so. Academic achievement is important and we will be looking for excellence, but civil engineering requires a multitude of talents and we will be recognising this.
Last year we had a record number of entries from across the breadth of the profession.
I hope this year will see even more talent put forward to challenge the judges with their views on what tests face civil engineers of the future.
From what I see and hear all over the industry, things are not set to be as gloomy in civil engineering as some fear. But if tough times are ahead, rest assured that we will need the best young people on board to cope. Celebrating what we have can never be a bad thing.