Today’s challenges mean that a wealth of young talent is vital to the industry

The first thing far too many firms did in the recession of the early nineties was to let go of their young trainees. Countless graduates and apprentices disappeared from industry, many never to return. You can understand the dilemma employers face when times are tough; businesses need to be lean if they’re to survive. But this is a horribly short-termist view and thankfully this time around we’ve been better prepared.

I think many more businesses today recognise that training and skills development actually make businesses run better. You’re more likely to win contracts with a sound skills and training plan in place; your staff will be more motivated, loyal and happy and you’ll have the skills you need to act competitively and be prepared for when opportunities do arise.

We’ve always said that training is good for business, and this is one of the main focuses of our Positive Image campaign. Through the recruitment campaign, we actively work with industry to ensure that new talent is provided with opportunities to develop a career in construction. No industry can survive without recruiting a steady flow of incoming talent, and at a time when we’re looking at new (greener) markets, and facing major new challenges, we need a young, keen, innovative workforce.

A sound skills infrastructure that supports recruitment and retention of staff is clearly essential, particularly as we look to enter a period of growth in the next couple of years.

We know times are still tough, but there is grant funding from CITB-ConstructionSkills that supports a wide range of training. Many of our funding and grant programmes are well respected by industry because they add a real gravitas to employers and offer them access to a wealth of young talent.

Mark Farrar is chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills