The group behind one of Birmingham's largest employers has revealed a big boost in profits - as a senior boss highlighted a shortage of top quality young recruits.
Highways and civil engineering specialist Atkins is celebrating a strong 12 months and it believes prospects remain good.
The group yesterday posted a 31 per cent rise in annual profits despite a slowdown in its key rail market.
And Richard Deacon, a group executive director, said the company was "always looking to take people on."
But he said over the last five years the number of potential recruits out of university, particularly in civil engineering, project management and building engineering, had dropped off.
He said: "The business has a strong platform but one of the constraints we face is finding sufficient new high calibre people."
The group had launched training programmes as part of its drive to meet the issue.
Atkins is part of a consortium shortlisted by Birmingham City Council for a £2 billion, 25-year, roads and street lighting maintenance and management contract.
Mr Deacon, who is also managing director of the group's highways and transportation division, said it had started work on a highways improvement planning and design consultancy for the city council.
The company said pretax profits before accounting for its pension fund deficit, goodwill and one- off items were £ 73 . 6 million against £56.2 million a year ago.
The group said its overall order book was strong, with about 57 per cent of budgeted turnover for 2006 in hand at the start of the financial year.