Monday, March 23, 2009

College construction delays hundreds of jobs at risk, Atkins warns

Hundreds of design and construction jobs could be lost if the Government does not speed up its review of its stalled ВЈ2.4bn college building programme, WS Atkins warned today.

WS Atkins has won thirteen contracts on the LSC programme so far and is shortlisted for a further eight. It is the only bidder to have won contracts across the LSC’s three regional sectors in England – North, South and Central.

The firm's call for action follows news this week that many colleges are facing bankruptcy after spending on designs for new college buildings which have now been put on ice while the Government review takes place.

The review was set up in January after the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) revealed it had overspent its budget for the college building programme and could not fund the schemes it had approved. Only eight of 144 college construction projects have gone ahead so far with another 71 frozen, despite securing approval in principle. A further 65 are awaiting approval. Led by Sir Andrew Foster, the review is not due to report until late April.


College construction delays hundreds of jobs at risk, Atkins warns


Paul Dollin, managing director of Atkins’ design and engineering business, said: “At peak we would expect to have around 250 staff employed on LSC projects with the contracts we have won and any threat to that work could have an obvious impact. This is especially true now when the market is not providing as many opportunities, making it harder to relocate staff in the short term.”

He added that the knock on effect on local construction economies and training programmes would be significant.He called on the Government to speed up the review, and to deliver on its promise to bring work forward to kick start the economy. “While we hear a lot about bringing forward work the evidence on the ground is completely contrary to that.”

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