Report warns of “disastrous” impact of Brexit on construction worker numbers

A new report looking at how Brexit might affect the UK new homes industry has warned of the serious consequences of suddenly losing European workers without transitional measures being introduced while the country trains more domestic employees.

Building on Brexit was published on 12 July at RICS as the result of a Commission of Inquiry from the All Party Parliamentary (APPG) Group for Excellence in the Built Environment. It says that Britain has 194,000 EU workers that it cannot afford to lose, with an ageing workforce of its own, and goes on to set out a 12-point plan to deal with the impact of the country leaving the EU.

Among the measures it recommends are:

  • Ensuring existing EU migrant workers are able to remain in the UK and then putting in place transitional arrangements over a period of time to stabilise numbers.
  • The construction industry backing a long-term approach to attract, train and retain a larger domestic workforce across all levels across the built environment, with more emphasis on modern working practices.
  • ‘Future-proofing’ the industry through, for example, a focus on digital technologies and offsite construction.
  • Merging the apprenticeship levy and the CITB and ring-fencing the contribution money into recruiting and training across the industry.

Oliver Colvile, chairman of the APPG Group for Excellence of the Built Environment says of the report’s findings: “Brexit presents huge risks to the UK construction sector and, as a consequence, to our ability to deliver the homes and infrastructure that we urgently need. It is hard to overstate the importance of locking in construction to the heart of the industrial strategy and taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to the challenges facing the construction sector in mitigating the risks.”

Professor John Nolan, chairman of the Construction Industry Council, which sponsored the report, adds: “It is vital the industry skills up and modernises and we would suggest our recommendations are incorporated into the sector-deal agreement that is being drawn up between government and the Construction Leadership Council as part of the new industrial strategy.”

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