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Clegg says that jobs in construction are at the heart of Lib Dem manifesto

April 26th, 2010

The Liberal Democrat’s manifesto may have come a little later than the other two political parties but the third party’s political pledges share a similar concern for the future of construction recruitment in the UK.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has however followed up his party’s manifesto with a letter addressed to industry news publication Building. In the letter, Clegg says that “Construction is at the heart” of his party’s vision for a “new economy.”

The Lib Dem manifesto pledges that the party will secure civil engineering jobs with a £3.1 billion investment into renewable energy infrastructure. Unlike the other parties, the Lib Dems have not backed nuclear industry as a means of meeting carbon reduction targets and ensuring energy security.

Instead, their ambitious plans for renewable energy would provide the biggest boost to the engineering and construction industry. Clegg claims that nearly 100,000 jobs in construction would be created in his party’s plans for renewable infrastructure, which makes the unrivalled pledge to meet 75% of the UK’s electricity needs through off-coast generation sites. The Lib Dem’s plans to transform redundant ship yards into manufacturing facilities for offshore renewable equipment in order to meet this pledge would also prove a boon to engineering recruitment outside of construction.

A proposed High Speed Rail (HSR) network which has been backed by the other two parties has also formed part of the Lib Dem’s election pledges. However, their manifesto states that work would begin in the first year of their government, creating engineering job vacancies on a faster timescale. Their plans to cap rail fares, though not directly related to railway jobs, also have the potential to drive rail work opportunities by increasing public demand on the rail system.

Clegg’s letter also outlines plans that would affect construction recruitment beyond rail and energy. Clegg says that “renewing and improving school buildings is a priority”, indicating that maintenance jobs on public contracts would have political support from the Liberal Democrats.

Nevertheless, housing jobs would perhaps be the most significantly affected area of construction work outside of engineering. The Lib Dems have pledged to insulate “every British home over the next 10 years” and have focused their policies on the creation of maintenance jobs in the housing sector rather than new build work.

They have pledged to promote refurbishment work on the country’s estimated half-a-million empty homes by equalising VAT on new build and repair projects, as well as scaling back the homebuy scheme. The party hopes this will enable them to avoid building on green belt land.

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