News Ticker

Post-Brexit Britain faces risk of losing 8% of construction workers

The construction industry could face losing as many as 200,000 EU workers post-Brexit should the UK lose access to the single market.

An exodus of this scale would put some of the country’s biggest infrastructure and construction projects under threat, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned.

RICS has cautioned that for Brexit to succeed, it is crucial to secure continued access to the EU Single Market.

It has also called on the Government to put interim, transitionary arrangements in place to prevent any potential “cliff edge”.

The latest RICS figures show that 8% of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for almost 176,500 people.

Thirty per cent of the construction professionals surveyed revealed that hiring non-UK workers was highly important to the initial success of their businesses.

Certain overseas professionals such as ballet dancers are regarded as critical by the UK government, and are therefore prioritised when it comes to the visa application process.

But despite the skills crisis construction professions have not yet been added to the ‘UK Shortage Occupations List’.

When asked about the effectiveness of current attempts to address the nation’s long-term skills shortages, 20% of those surveyed felt that apprenticeship schemes were not effective at all.

RICS Head of UK Policy, Jeremy Blackburn said: “These figures reveal that the UK construction industry is currently dependent on thousands of EU workers.

“It is in all our interests that we make a success of Brexit, but a loss of access to the single market, has the potential to slowly bring the UK’s £500bn infrastructure pipeline to a standstill.

“A simple first step would be to ensure that construction professions such as quantity surveyors feature on the Shortage Occupations List. Ballet dancers won’t improve our infrastructure or solve the housing crisis, yet their skills are currently viewed as essential, whereas construction professionals are not.