As a student at Loughborough University studying construction engineering management, I would like to comment on the article about construction students by Kate Allen (14 November, pages 44-47).
Although the student Martin Caldwell obviously had a disappointing placement experience, this is by no means an industry standard. I am one of more than 100 students at Loughborough who are sponsored by major construction companies (Bovis Lend Lease, Taylor Woodrow, Skanska, Norwest Holst, Laing, Kier Group, HBG, Costain, Carrilion and Amec) in a number of industry-related degrees.

As part of the courses we each have at least 12 months on site, and several summer placements. During this time we are given much responsibility and experience in all aspects of the construction process, but with excellent supervision from managers who are willing to impart their knowledge to keen undergraduates. This is not only advantageous to the students, but also provides the companies involved with a supply of well-trained graduates who will be less likely to quit, feeling that construction "is not for them". It also provides graduates that are only "damp" and not "wet behind the ears".

We are quick to chastise the lack of industry involvement in education, but slow to congratulate those that are working with students and giving them the opportunity to work on national landmarks, airports, schools, shopping centres and so on, while encouraging their interest in the industry through training and experience.