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Construction industry issues warning on access to EU workers post-Brexit

Words: Laura Edgar
Construction / Shutterstock_180963377

The construction sector has warned the government of the dangers of the industry facing a ‘cliff edge’ regarding access to workers from the European Union (EU) following Brexit.

Seven of the construction industry’s trade bodies have set out what they think are the sector’s responsibilities and requirements in a post-Brexit labour market.

According to a joint statement, the Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto commits the sector to doing much more to recruit and train additional UK workers so it is not so reliant on non-UK workers.

It also notes this won’t happen immediately and it is likely that for a period of time, there will be a need for a “significant” number of skilled EU workers.

The manifesto sets out a number of key messages for the government, outlining what it needs from a post-Brexit immigration system so it can deliver the government’s housing and infrastructure ambitions. These include:

  • The government should agree a two-year transition period as soon as possible. During this time EU workers arriving in the UK should continue to have a path to settled status.
  • The post-transitional migration system should be based on key occupations that are in short supply, rather than on arbitrary thresholds based on skill levels or income.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association, Home Builders Federation, and National Federation of Builders all support the manifesto.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The construction industry has been criticised in the past for being too disparate, but it has come together here with one voice and set of clear messages. We know we need to step up as an industry and train more home-grown talent, but we also have to be realistic about the future. There will continue to be some ongoing need for migrant workers and our post-Brexit migration rules will need to be fit for purpose.”

Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of Build UK, added: “Construction, like other major industry sectors, has substantial concerns over the impact of Brexit on its ability to recruit, train and retain talent. It is essential that industry works together to present the need for an effective partnership between Government and industry, enabling us to deliver the UK's infrastructure, homes and communities."

Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto can be found on the Federation of Master Builders website (pdf).

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