FIFTEEN pupils from Hayward School, Bolton visited a building site as part of a national campaign to boost recruitment in the construction industry.

They were shown work in progress at a G & J Seddon housing development in Viking Street, Bolton during National Construction Week.

The trip was arranged by Seddons, the Construction Industry Training Board and the Bolton & Bury Construction Curriculum Partnership.

The 14-year-old pupils involved are also attending Bolton Community College as part of a vocational construction programme.

Over the last decade the industry workforce has aged with a sharp decline in the number of people aged between 16 and 24.

One factor is that more young people are staying on in full-time education after the age of 16.

A CITB Employers' Skill Needs Survey last year showed that 76 per cent of employers were reporting difficulties in recruiting skilled staff.

The industry, which is particularly short of joiners and bricklayers, estimates that it will need 76,000 new recruits each year between 2002 and 2006 to keep pace with projected construction growth.

Mr Brian Wilson, the Minister for Construction, ended National Construction Week with a plea to young people.

"Construction needs well-trained, highly-skilled recruits," he said.

"It is a career and not just a job for school-leavers.

"We all need to get over the idea that being a tradesman or woman is a cop-out."

He added: "More and more money is being spent on new buildings in Britain. So recruiting and keeping young people in construction is essential."

CONSTRUCTION ADVIDE: From left: Matthew Bagnall, Anthony Stokes, Kyle Khan, Stephen Hardman, flagger Mark Mather and flagger Harold Fielding