Your leader and feature on local contractors (14 September, 2007) was long overdue.
I would suggest that the intended long-term benefits of framework agreements, targeted at national contractors, are whimsical. I am not sure that there are many short-term benefits either, but that is another matter.
The construction industry is being, correctly, encouraged by a number of different interest groups to increase training.
If Kent and Sussex are a reasonable benchmark for the rest of the country, then most training and apprenticeships have been provided by SMEs for many, many years.
In most cases, these established local and regional contractors had been able to invest in training initiatives because of their long-term, continuing relationships with their public sector customers. In my opinion, training and apprenticeships work best at a local level, as long as the companies can foresee a reasonable amount of workload from their employers.
The problem is that, on one hand, there is the movement towards the use of national contractors, and on the other, there is frustration about the number of available apprenticeship placements. How long will it be before local contractors are no longer able to support the number of apprenticeships needed, with the amount of work coming to them? And when this inevitable conclusion is reached, how many young people will have missed the opportunity to have fine and rewarding careers?
RJ Barwick, Barwick Construction