Highways industry skills shortage coming, warns IHE president

The president of the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) says ongoing highways funding cuts will lead to a skills shortage.

Speaking in his President’s Blog before the government’s Autumn Statement Richard Hayes (pictured) said: “We have already heard in previous statements that additional capital funding will be made available for highways in 2015 and beyond. You may recall that at the time, I made the plea for spending to be made available to enhance the asset now rather than at a future date.

“Despite signs that the economy is recovering, I have learned recently that there continue to be colleagues in the public sector who face the prospect of further redundancy threats as the devastating cut in local authority budgets has not yet run its full course. Sadly, for many hundreds of people the future is not bright at all.

“The human cost of the revenue budget cuts will see experienced highway engineers leave on a voluntary basis or take early retirement. These people’s skills and experience are something we can ill afford to give up. With the prospect of some improvement less than two years away, we need to ensure that we have the ability to use the available finance effectively and to do that we need the right people in place. I hope very much that our council and civic leaders across the country recognise that they need to prepare for the future rather than making short-term financial savings. We have long made the argument for good asset management and it is never more appropriate than at budget setting time.”

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