NORTH-EAST construction bosses have reacted angrily to a scathing report by MPs which demands the building trade industry tackles "pathetically dismal" apprenticeship numbers.
In a report called No More Lost Generations: Creating Construction Jobs for Young People, the group's joint-chairman Nick Raynsford MP noted that construction apprenticeships had plummeted in 2013 to 7,280, just half the figure for 2008/09.
Lord Richard Best, fellow joint-chairman, said: "A concerted effort is needed, led by the major firms and by those who procure construction contracts, to ensure young people brought up in the UK can take advantage of the growing number of jobs in construction.
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"Without sufficient skilled home grown staff, employers are once again looking to import labour from other countries - particularly from Eastern Europe. This is not in the longer term interests of either the industry or the country."
The report follows an inquiry into how more young people can be employed in construction conducted by a commission of Parliamentarians drawn from both houses and the three main parties.
The commission found that the drastic fall in apprenticeship training comes at a time when the construction industry is forecast to need 182,000 more workers in the next five years.
Douglas Kell, director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (North East) agreed that to a contractor apprentices are vital to the industry's future, but feared that the regions firms were unable to offer places due to the scarcity of workload.
He added: "If the Government and all those willing to invest would allocate some of their finances to the North-East, making them available continuously over a few years, contractors would have order books longer than a few weeks. More apprentices could immediately be taken on then.
"Until then, how can an industry be expected to employ trainees and apprentices if they cannot guarantee their employment will be longer than a few months?
"There is no better time to employ an apprentice with the numerous financial incentives available - that is well recognised.
"So the answer is simple and does not require a 23 page report. Provide a period of stability and with a reasonable order book resulting the construction industry in the North-East will be able to offer apprentices and other trainees a sustainable future."