Identifying the nub of the apprentice issue, shadows cast on our national sport, and more heat on the subject of ventilation

Apprenticeships: has the system collapsed?

When working with a local CE contractor, we secured a youngster who had undertaken a full time pre-apprentice bricklaying course at a local college. The local college was enthusiastic about trying to place youngsters, and developed portfolios etc for them. The work they produced was very good.

However, the complany only employed CIS operatives, and we could not persuade any of them to take the youngster on!! That is the essence of the problem; few firms employ direct PAYE tradesmen; most will only take labour only subbies or individuals under the CIS scheme.
Iain Cathro

Supersize me: HKS' Dallas Cowboys stadium

Did you watch the FA cup final on Saturday? I did and it 'looked' terrible. The massive shadows on the pitch really spoilt my viewing.

Surely a simple method of brise soleil to shade the whole pitch for the duration of the match, and subtle lighting to illuminate the pitch as necessary would work, and don't forget the sun is not going to change its path.

Do you think this was an important part of the design that was overlooked? Aren't most of the important matches in the stadium in May and June, playoffs, FA cup and England matches when we have maximum sunshine? How long will it be before they do something – our national stadium is in danger of becoming a joke.
Steve Heasman

Eco-ventilation health scare prompts regulation

"It also says this could increase the risk of cancer in the homes of smokers". You don't say.

Do you really need buildings to be so air-tight that your ears pop when someone attempts to open the door? No one wants to live in a Dutch cow shed, but equally, no one should be living in Tupperware-like sealed container either. Ones step too far and all that - I think an air-tightness of 3 is just fine, thanks.
Gavin Howells

Eco-ventilation health scare prompts regulation change

I rest my case. Why do we try to reproduce mechanically what nature has been doing for millennia. Even the Victorians knew that you have to work with nature not against it. The BRE needs to accept that there are natural levels beyond which it is dangerous to proceed in controlling the environment within buildings; after that we have to look for other means and accept the balance of nature.

The human body needs a level of fresh air around it to naturally perspire and breathe and yes people are fallible even lazy. We are too reliant upon forced control systems and have forgotten how to work with nature in the race for the zero carbon building. Nature produces carbon as does every living thing on the basis that we are carbon-based life forms. What we need to do is strike a balance.

Oh and before someone accuses me of being a woolly -jumpered, sandal -wearing, tree hugger, I've worked in construction, largely on the client's side, having to consider the occupants and facilities management of building for over 35 years.
David Overment

Eco-ventilation health scare prompts regulation change

About time! Hats off to NHBC and Dr Swainson for producing a draft report that actually takes into account the "real world". If Part F relates to the occupants' health, then why isn't ventilation a controlled service? Ventilation systems should be designed, installed, and maintained by professionals. We should not cut corners with peoples' health.
Richard Williams