UK MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, Brian Wilson, has backed calls to attract more graduates and women into the construction sector. In a speech to public sector construction clients and leading contractors, he emphasised that the business cannot afford to turn its back on talented young people.

‘The construction sector has had an image problem and has failed to attract women and bright young people,’ said Wilson. ‘That has contributed to frequent skills and labour shortages. It is only by attracting more women and more young people that these problems can be overcome.’

Speaking during National Construction Week (15-21 October), Wilson highlighted that the decline in new entrants was a major issue in the industry. Some estimates point to a need for at least 80,000 recruits this year to maintain existing levels.

Wilson did however praise the Construction Industry Training Board’s design-a-job website as a step forward. The site is a new online graduate careers and recruitment system supported by companies across the whole industry. It aims to match young people’s aspirations to suitable career opportunities (

• For a student insight of the hydro industry, see the October 2001 issue of IWP&DC, pp14-15.