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carry out essential work because they are in such short supply, it will be too late. I worry about what the landscape will look like in 10 years and who will be teaching our future captains of industry.’ With more and more young people directed towards

ECA PRESIDENT, DIANE JOHNSON, HAS ISSUED A stark warning about an impending skills shortage in the UK. Speaking after her inauguration as the fi rst female president of the ECA, she said: ‘We are sitting on a ticking time bomb. If we don’t act now, we will not have the homegrown talent needed to fulfi l this country’s potential. The consequences of that will be more far-reaching than most people realise.’

Lamenting that traditional trades are seemingly

undervalued, she commented: ‘All too often the valuable role of our tradespeople is ignored. When we are no longer able to call on a qualifi ed electrician, plumber or joiner to

further education, Johnson believes this policy is seriously fl awed, as the cost of getting a degree leads to graduates entering the job market tens of thousands of pounds in debt, and takes vital talent away from vocational training. She said: ‘The previous government wanted to achieve 50 per cent of all young people attending university, which over time has tarnished the image of vocational training and has seen it become a “silver medal” for school leavers. ‘The UK is fast falling behind other countries such as Germany, which still recognises the need for craftsmen and women and has continued to train much higher numbers of apprentices. This will affect our young people’s long-term chances of employment as foreign companies undertaking contracts in the UK will bring in their own personnel because we won’t have the skilled labour to compete.’ Johnson said failure to address the skills shortage could prove catastrophic, and concluded: ‘We recognise the government has to take tough measures to help aid the nation’s economic recovery. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that we still need to train people to carry out these essential roles in years to come. If we don’t value our trades and the government doesn’t properly incentivise employers to take on apprentices, it’s only a matter of time before the bomb will explode.’

Uncertainty still as construction grows

CONSTRUCTION OUTPUT ROSE BY 8.6 PER CENT for the second quarter of 2010, according to the Offi ce for National Statistics (ONS). However, the Construction Products Association has warned that the industry is still in a very precarious position and the fi gures do not indicate a dramatic recovery.

Commenting on the ONS announcement, the association’s chief executive Michael Ankers said: ‘These fi gures show the strongest quarterly

increase in output in nearly 50 years, but they fl atter to deceive. Construction was particularly badly hit by the poor weather in the early part of the year, so the second quarter was always going to see a sharp pick-up. In addition, a number of public sector projects were started in the run-up to the election and this undoubtedly helped boost output in the spring.

‘Looking further ahead, we are concerned about the prospects for continued output growth

in the rest of the year and beyond. The latest Construction Products Association trade survey shows that, on balance, product manufacturers and suppliers anticipate a fall in sales in the rest of the year. With cuts in public spending on projects like the Building Schools for the Future programme already announced, and further cuts inevitable after the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October, the future remains very uncertain.’

T Clarke’s order book up by a third

T CLARKE SAW REVENUE AND PROFITS OVER THE previous six months fall compared to last year, but has boosted its order book by almost a third. Results for the half-year ending 30 June showed that revenue stood at £85.7m, down from £93.2m a year ago; however, the fi rm’s order book expanded from £170m in 2009 to £220m this year. Its current projects include the 2012 Olympic Stadium and Stratford City Shopping Centre.

The company also announced it had acquired DG Robson Mechanical Services, a mechanical services and public health contractor, for a total consideration of up to £6.15m. Mark Lawrence, T Clarke’s chief executive, said: ‘I am pleased to report that the group has maintained its market share in the period and has secured some of the most signifi cant projects available, despite a continuing tough and challenging environment.’

In Brief

■ Ellis Patents has agreed a deal with one of the world’s leading cable manufacturers, Ducab, to become its sole supplier of cable cleats.

■ Cablofi l has helped Nestlé enhance effi ciency and reduce the risk of production line contamination at its York factory, following installation of more than 3km of the Cablofi l steel wire containment system.

■ Carillion has gained a fi ve- year extension to its contracts with EDF Energy Networks, worth £40m per annum.

■ Having been selected as the preferred private sector partner for the development of £300m worth of community facilities across south-east Scotland over the next 10 years, Galliford Try has reached an agreement formalising its position.

■ The ECA and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) have signed an agreement to work as Partners in Building Services Excellence.

■ EIC has secured a maintenance contract with Tesco. The Midlands-based contractor has won the competitive tender to provide electrical maintenance for Tesco stores across the north of England and also in Scotland.

■ Cornwall Council has granted planning permission for the development of the UK’s fi rst commercial deep geothermal power plant near Redruth.

■ Former ECA president and founder chairman of JTL, Bob Harris, of RT Harris and Son, has been awarded the fi rst electrical Master Certifi cate by the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers and the ECA.

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 7

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