Impact of Brexit on the Construction Industry
The decision to leave the European Union will profoundly affect the construction industry, more than most industries in the UK.
Access to labour is the first major issue as Brexit marks the end of freedom of movement for workers across the EU. The construction industry relies extensively on foreign workers, mainly from the EU. Government figures state nearly 12% of the construction industry’s 2.1m workers come from the EU. Due to the demands of the industry, according to the Chartered Institute of Building (“CIOB”), the industry will now have to find an additional 224,000 new recruits by 2019 to meet the overall pipeline of work.
In the short term, there will be no significant changes but the likelihood is that the wages of construction workers will soar as the industry’s skill shortage continues to take hold. A survey conducted by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (“REC”) reports that bricklayers are able to earn up to £1,000 a week as building companies compete for workers to keep infrastructure and housebuilding schemes on target.
Skills shortages need to be addressed, which means more apprenticeships, greater investment in skills development by employers, and more work experience opportunities so that young people are shown the potential benefits of a career in construction.