Ray O'Rourke claims that CITB-ConstructionSkills is failing in its efforts to attract young people to the industry (19 May, page 14). I'm more than happy to set the record straight.

Through work with young people in schools, the "Positive Image" national recruitment campaign, and the continued success of our managing agency, we can show significant progress in encouraging young people to consider construction as a career.

Last year CITB-ConstructionSkills saw a 25% increase in applications for its apprenticeships, and applications to building degree courses were up almost 20%. Of course, it's no easy task to change the image of the industry, particularly when we are hampered by exponents of outdated ideas about the role of women, but we are making progress regardless.

Having more women in the industry will challenge perceptions of what it's like to work in construction, so it is pleasing that in 2004/05 almost one-third of new starters taking degrees in architecture, building and planning were female, and more than one-third of applicants to our Inspire Scholarships scheme were women.

And as for whether Laing O'Rourke gets value for money for its levy contribution, we work very closely with the company and would be happy to discuss further the benefits it receives.

Peter Lobban, chief executive, CITB-ConstructionSkills