I was encouraged by the story "Clarke: Skills council will end need for foreign workers" (3 October, page 13).
I agree with the education secretary's sentiments. Far too little is being done to train young people. Sadly, the government's attitude towards the construction industry has been to downgrade its importance at ministerial level, which has not helped to give the sector the support it needs.

Let's hope that this sector skills council will really make a difference. As a company, we have started working with universities to recruit apprentices from school who work and study simultaneously. The scheme allows individuals to attend higher education while having the financial support of a good job.

One particular example is Northumbria University, where we are working together to tailor our coursework with workplace experience and learning to promote higher levels of individual achievement than normally result from the disjointed relationship between education and employment. Significantly, our initiatives are entirely self-funded. However, our experience has been that it is difficult to find the right people at grassroots level in the education system to contribute productively.

A commitment to a relationship with education is not an option any longer, it is absolutely essential. The industry should be doing more to help itself rather than whingeing! We would be keen to understand how the SSC is going to be different. It may be that money would be better spent providing effective regional co-ordinators than in sponsoring individual students. Let the industry stand on its own two feet!

We're certainly excited about our own results so far. Our self-funded initiative is helping us to identify future talent and offer financial support and training to those young people who are keen to be part of this growing industry.