The report warns that failure to secure access to the single market could place the UK’s predicted £500 billion infrastructure pipeline under threat.
Duncan Wietscher, Director of Newview Windows & Conservatories, comments: It is in our best interests to make a success of Brexit and secure the best trade deals we can but a loss of access to the single market has the potential to impact in the short term, making it harder for our cities to compete on a global stage and negatively impacting the economy.
We desperately need to secure access to the single market or put alternative plans in place to safeguard the future of construction and our country.
Much of the industry is dependent on EU workers, with 30% of construction professionals surveyed by RICS stating that hiring non-UK workers was important to the success of their businesses. But overseas construction professionals are not currently regarded as critical by the government and therefore are not prioritised during the VISA application.
Duncan stresses that more importance should be placed on technical construction skills.
He comments: Ballet dancers are regarded critical by the government but they won’t improve our infrastructure or solve the housing crisis. A simple first step would be to ensure that construction professions feature on the ‘UK Shortage Occupations List’. You can forge a good career in construction and we need to ensure the next generation is aware of this and prepare our own young people to enter a profession with a proven career path.
Chancellor Philip Hammond briefly addressed the construction skills shortage in the March Budget, with the confirmation of the launch of new T-Level qualifications.
More than £500m a year is to be spent on new-style technical courses that offer an alternative route than A-levels into many careers, with construction prominent among them.
While it is good to see, the skills shortage recognised as a priority issue, the new technical education reforms will be a drop in the ocean compared to the numbers we need to meet the demands created by our infrastructure programme. The industry needs to act now. We have to be relentless in securing a stable pipeline of nationally significant projects that will fuel economic growth, concludes Duncan.