IN spite of all the bad news which is about as we go into the new year - potential recession, government losing the data of millions of people, credit crunch, consumer debt, etc - I am determined to be upbeat.
This is why the story in the news this month about Speedy Hire's initiative with more than 100 prisoners to train them in plant maintenance is a blessing.
The building services industry has a skills shortage. We have been talking about it since I began editing this magazine more than five years ago. But while most of us talk the talk few of us walk the walk. This is why the Speedy Hire initiative is so welcoming.
I was at the annual Construction Youth Trust concert in London just before Christmas. Highlight of the evening was a programme by the Royal College of Music's Junior Department Chamber Orchestra.
These amazing young musicians are so talented and provide a contrast to the young people which the trust helps to fund so that they will be able to work in the construction industry.
The basic work, so far, was funding young people - from simply paying the fares to college for an apprentice who could not afford them to funding graduates who have fallen on hard times through university.
In 2007 the charity extended its programme with the launch of the Toolkit for Life initiative.
This is designed to provide employment and placement opportunities in the construction industry for young offenders on release so that they can gain skills and work and not reoffend.
And the trust is involved in a project - funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government - which maps and informs construction-centred initiatives which promote the training and employment of people affected by homelessness.
And last but not least is the trust's involvement in the Capital Xperience project which gives students from the Olympic boroughs training about the industry and a summer placement with leading organisations in the sector.
(Here government might like to take a leaf from the Construction Youth Trust and Speedy Hire work and remember just talking about it doesn't cut it!)
As for Speedy Hire, for many of the young offenders the company are trying to help, this may be the last chance they have of a life on the straight and narrow. For the young people helped by Construction Youth Trust, it is their chance to begin a worthwhile and rewarding career in construction.
I urge you all to do your bit. It may be by giving the Construction Youth Trust a few quid or helping the charity out by taking some of the youngsters for a few week's work experience.
Bigger firms - and here Integral the FM company also deserves a mention for its initiatives with the police in Nottingham and Dr Barnardo's to get disadvantaged youngsters into work - might like to consider their own initiatives or link with charities such as the Construction Youth Trust.
Perhaps I have offered firms a New Year's
Let me sign off with one more story from Heatrae Sadia.
Every year, the company gives journalist like myself a slap-up Christmas lunch and a present.
Last year, instead of the present the company donated a unvented cylinder to CRASH, the construction industry charity for the homeless. for every journalist who attended the lunch.
This year, we were told where our unvented cylinders had gone.
Even though I had very little to do with it, I felt quite good about the fact that the Paul Braithwaite boiler was installed in St George's Crypt in Leeds, a day centre for the homeless.
Happy New Year to you all.
Paul Braithwaite, editor