Half of UK construction workers concerned about post-Brexit skills gap, survey shows

Exclusive: The RICS found that construction workers in London and senior and middle managers are most concerned about a Brexit-induced skills gap

8 per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals
8 per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals

Over half of construction workers in Britain are concerned by the prospect of a skills shortage as the UK hurtles towards Brexit, new data reveals.

A survey by polling company OnePoll, commissioned on behalf of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), found that output from the UK construction market is expected to grow over the next twelve months.

But 53 per cent of construction workers deem labour shortages to be a serious challenge.

A RICS report earlier in the year estimated that that 8 per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 individuals.

The latest survey shows that construction workers in London and senior and middle managers are most concerned about a skills gap.

“With Britain set to leave the European market we must ensure that we are not left in a skills vacuum,” said Barry Cullen of RICS.

He welcomed the recently introduced apprenticeship levy, which the survey found was expanding the pool of talent in the industry, but said that post-Brexit assurances were needed.

The construction industry – due to its high proportion of international workers – has been particularly vocal around the risks of Brexit since the June 2016 referendum.

In March this year it set out a wish-list for Brexit, citing five things that it believes should be strategically prioritised by the Government as divorce negotiations get under way.

As well as setting a concrete timeline and doing its utmost to attract foreign investment, the group at the time demanded that the Government push for skilled international workers to be able to come to the UK, for an agreement to be reached swiftly for the “passporting” of professional services and for it to seize the opportunity to reset British agriculture by leaving the Common Agriculture Policy.

A report published on Friday by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) found that UK businesses are already finding it “notably harder” to recruit skilled staff for professional roles like banking and engineering as a result of a fall in net migration.

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