Research suggests Brexit will ‘damage’ UK construction industry

construction industry

More than 80% of construction workers believe Brexit will damage the UK’s industry and prevent high-profile government infrastructure projects from being delivered, according to a new study

Researchers at Birmingham City University have been examining the views of people working in the construction industry to see how they believe jobs, projects and industry will be impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The results revealed that 88% of workers believed the UK relied upon EU skilled labour, while 82% thought exiting the EU would lead to the prevention of several government infrastructure projects.

The findings also highlighted that 86% of workers expected to see a rise in demand for skilled workers following Brexit, while 92% thought freedom of movement was beneficial to the UK’s construction industry.

More than 50 businesses gave feedback for the research project with one respondent saying: “I believe that this (Brexit) will lead to an intensification of the current skills crisis and could well lead to increases in labour and project costs.”

The study was led by Marwan Mohamed a recent Built Environment graduate from Birmingham City University alongside Erika Pärn, Lecturer in Architectural Technology at Birmingham City University.

The research entitled: Brexit: measuring the impact upon skilled labour in the UK construction industry was produced as part of the final year dissertation.

Marwan Mohamed said: “This research deals with a topical, historic and unprecedented matter that is currently shrouding the UK construction sector.

“It concludes that the UK construction sector relies upon EU skilled labour, that there is widespread industry opposition to Brexit, and that many within the sector believe Brexit will reduce the supply of skilled labour from the EU rather than increase or enhance it.

“The paper therefore provides pragmatic recommendations to policymakers and higher education institutes to prevent the risk of Brexit further exacerbating skilled labour shortages within the industry.”

The research also revealed that 90% thought that other EU countries would be more attractive for migrant workers following Brexit and that 88% felt a labour shortage would affect the UK’s construction industry.

The paper outlines possible solutions to both a potential reduction in skilled labour moving to the UK following Brexit and the limited numbers of young people entering the construction industry.

Recommendations include:

  • Retaining free movement by remaining in the European Economic Area
  • Retaining current workers through increasing wages, providing guaranteed overtime and reducing physical exertion by expanding the use of technology
  • Creating more apprenticeship opportunities
  • Improving the image of a career in construction to appeal more to young people.



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