A national survey of local authority roads staff in Scotland has found numbers dropped by some 20% in the last three years, with around half of the heads of department moving jobs.
Carried out through the Scottish Roads Collaboration Programme, the poll found a dramatic shift in staffing levels between 2016 and last year.
In 2016 there was a workforce of 5,200 across local government roads with an average age of 48, according to the survey. This total staff number fell to 4,100 staff last year.
There was also a drop in the proportion of women in the sector from 10% to 9%.
Programme manager for the Roads Collaboration Programme, Angus Bodie, said: 'We identified a whole load of skills gaps, particularly around professional services and in the last three years we have seen a 20% reduction in overall staff in local roads across all roles.
'The survey also found 14 out of 32 local roads authority heads of roads have changed in the last year and were not always replaced with a civil engineer.'
To help with the job churn at the top of roads departments, the Scottish Roads Collaboration Programme have developed a 'Routes to Leadership' programme.
Mr Bodie said: 'This is a highly successful initiative that started in March last year. Suddenly service managers are told you have to be head of roads; you have to come to council meetings; deal with annual budgets and elected members among other things.
'We are helping to train up some of these people utilising the skills of existing heads of service and providing four training sessions a year for them.'