Brexit & Skills

New research published today by CITB shows that one in three construction firms are already feeling the impact of Brexit on their businesses.

CITB’s new Green Paper – Research into Migration in the UK Construction and Built Environment Sector found that while a growing number of employers are feeling the effects of Brexit like staff shortages and a fewer clients, less than a third have taken action as it approaches, or even plan on doing so.

The Green Paper recommends that construction firms adopt a twin-track strategy by investing in the domestic workforce whilst also securing the vital talent of migrant workers. If industry is to deliver on the planned pipeline of work, it is estimated that 158,000 construction jobs will be created between now and 2022, and the CITB calls on industry to collaborate to meet the productivity challenge, raise skills and support the economy.

One in three construction employers report that they are feeling the impact of Brexit, up from 9 per cent last year, while nearly half expect the recruitment of skilled workers to become more difficult over the next two years.

The latest Labour Force Survey data reveals that just over 2.25 million people aged between 16 and 64 worked in the UK’s construction industry in 2017. Of these, 14.8 per cent of them were born outside the UK. Over half of non-UK workers in construction now come from the EU Accession Countries.

A regional breakdown of English regions’ dependence on non-UK workers shows a large fall in dependence in the South East and Yorkshire, but a rise in the East Midlands and the North East. The situation is particularly acute in London, where the CITB’s research shows that more than half of construction employers have seen impacts from Brexit.

CECA has championed the case for infrastructure as the most efficient way of delivering posts-Brexit growth, and that more must be done to close the skills gap in our industry, which currently requires 35,000 new workers per year. Yet with Brexit approaching, construction employers are reporting project delays due to uncertainty, a lack of client investment, increased costs, and staff shortages – all before Britain has formally left the European Union.

CECA has been working with members, CITB and other trade federations to understand and respond to the potential impacts of Brexit on employment in the sector.

Our Brexit working group has considered options for managing future EU migrants in construction, while also providing guidance to existing EU workers that wish to remain. We are about to kick of a cross-industry survey to develop a more detailed picture of the occupations that are being carried out by EU migrant workers. If any CECA members would like to contribute to this work, please get in touch.