Brexit vote could cause labour shortages

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The construction sector has expressed concerns that the vote to leave the EU could lead to a huge shortfall in workers…

Skills shortages in the UK remain an issue that doesn’t seem likely to disappear any time soon. However, the construction sector has warned the vote to leave the EU could place further pressures on an already stretched industry, leading to a potentially significant labour shortfall.

National Federation of Builders chief executive Richard Beresford said: “The government must clarify what will happen to the EU construction workers in the UK, as they are currently filling the gap left by our skills crisis.

“We need to recruit a million workers into the industry by 2020, and putting EU migrants off coming here will only exacerbate this problem.”

He added: “The lack of skills for the pipeline of work we have is the defining structural issue for the industry. Until now, we have developed home-grown talent and, when that was not enough, we turned to the EU to make up the shortfall.

“The government must clarify what will happen to the EU construction workers in the UK, as they are currently filling the gap left by our skills crisis. We need to recruit a million workers into the industry by 2020, and putting EU migrants off coming here will only exacerbate this problem.”

The sector has called for the government to ensure a new immigration system post-Brexit that ensures skilled workers from overseas can be recruited. Failure to do so would put a hold on government infrastructure and housebuilding projects.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “The UK construction industry has been heavily reliant on migrant workers from Europe for decades now – at present, 12 per cent of the British construction workers are of non-UK origin.

“The majority of these workers are from EU countries such as Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

“It is now the government’s responsibility to ensure that the free-flowing tap of migrant workers from Europe is not turned off.

“If ministers want to meet their house building and infrastructure objectives, they have to ensure that the new system of immigration is responsive to the needs of industry.”

In the upcoming months it will be imperative that the issue of overseas workers is discussed by government and the new prime minister when he or she steps into that role.

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