Surveyors warn of workforce Brexodus
Surveyors, the numbers people of the construction industry, have calculated that nearly 200,000 workers could be lost if the UK chooses not to retain the rights of EU citizens after Brexit.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says that 8% of the UK’s construction workforce comes from other EU countries. Making these workers return to their home lands, RICS, says, will put some of the country’s biggest infrastructure and construction projects under threat.
RICS says that for Britain to remain economically healthy after withdrawing from the EU, it needs continued access to the EU Single Market or to put alternative plans in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sectors in the UK.
Some overseas professionals, such as ballet dancers, are regarded as critical by the UK government, and given special dispensation in the visa application process. Construction professions should similarly be added to the UK shortage occupations list, RICS says.
In a RICS survey, 30% of construction professionals said that hiring non-UK workers was important to the success of their businesses.
When asked about the effectiveness of current plans to address the UK’s long-term skills shortages, 20% of respondents felt that apprenticeship schemes were not effective at all.
RICS policy chief Jeremy Blackburn said: “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. That means that unless access to the single market is secured or alternative plans are put in place, we won’t be able to create the infrastructure needed to enable our cities to compete on a global stage. We have said before that this is a potential stumbling block for the government, which is working to deliver both its housing white paper and industrial strategy.
“A simple first step would be to ensure that construction professions, such as quantity surveyors, feature on the UK 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.”
He added: “Of course, we must also address the need to deliver a construction and property industry that is resilient to future change and can withstand the impact of any future political or economic shocks — key to that will be growing the domestic skills base. As the industry’s professional body, we are working with government and industry to develop that skills base, building vital initiatives, such as degree apprenticeships, in our sector to drive the talent pipeline forward. This survey reveals that more work needs to be done to promote the indisputable benefits of these schemes to industry – RICS intends to take this forward as a priority.”
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This article was published on 15 Mar 2017 (last updated on 15 Mar 2017).