A Hard Brexit could leave the London construction market “high and dry”, as nearly one in four builders hired are from the EU
The London construction market could suffer significantly in the event of a Hard Brexit, says Sadiq Khan.
The Mayor of London warned that the capital would be crippled if immigration measures were unfavourable against EU migrant workers in the sector, stating it would leave contractors “high and dry”.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the impact of Brexit on the construction sector, but there is a sense of agreement that a Hard Brexit would be difficult for the industry to cope with. Many believe it would exacerbate the skills crisis already plaguing construction. In fact, difficulties are already being felt. Earlier this month it was reported that many eastern Europeans are starting to avoid applying for jobs in the UK due to Brexit. Now, Mayor Khan has warned a Hard Brexit could be particularly problematic for the capital.
In a new report, Housing in London, Khan revealed that 95,000 London construction workers out of 350,000 are from the EU.
Khan said: “When I speak to businesses – both large and small – one of the biggest issues they raise with me is the skills gap.
“They tell me that maintaining a skilled workforce is absolutely crucial to their future and the future of the whole economy.
“London is in the grip of a serious housing crisis – and fixing it is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
“While we are working to train up more Londoners to have the skills to work in construction, you can’t escape the fact that a ‘Hard Brexit’ could leave a quarter of the skilled construction workforce in the capital high and dry which would have a crippling effect on our plans to build the homes Londoners so desperately need.”
Major problems across the industry
The London construction sector is not the only area that is likely to feel a Hard Brexit. Earlier this month, Balfour Beatty published a paper examining the future of the rail industry. This paper also highlighted the problems that would face the sector in the event of a Hard Brexit.
The report ‘Staying on Track’ said it expected to see difficulties in the recruitment of skilled engineers if immigration rules were tightened.
Balfour warned more than 10 per cent of its workforce currently comes from the EU. Some 11 per cent of new recruits in 2016 held EU passports.
London needs skilled workers
Councillor Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council and member of the London Economic Area Partnership, said: “We urgently need more skilled construction workers in London. The Mayor has asked me to bring together partners from local government, developers, the construction industry and training providers to address this.
“While the challenges are significant, made even more urgent by the expected impact of Brexit, the leadership provided by the Mayor on this issue will enable us to work together to propose sustainable solutions in order to ensure a world-class construction workforce for London.”