Brexit could cost the construction sector thousands of workers and increase the skills shortage

Courtney Goldsmith
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Chinese construction workers work on a n...
Construction workers are already in short supply in Britain (Source: Getty)

While the UK grapples with a skills shortage in the construction industry, new figures suggest Brexit will threaten eight per cent of the sector's workforce.

Losing access to the EU's Single Market will put nearly 200,000 construction jobs at risk, a survey of construction professionals by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) will today reveal.

According to the survey, 30 per cent of construction professionals said hiring non-British workers was important to the success of their business.

The loss of workers will put a predicted £500bn project pipeline in jeopardy, Rics said.

The group warned Brexit won't succeed without access to the Single Market or alternative safeguarding plans.

"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," said Jeremy Blackburn, head of UK policy at Rics.

"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.

Rics criticised the government for prioritising overseas professionals like ballet dancers while construction professionals remain in a shortage.​

Read more: Employers see skills shortages ahead as demand for talent rises

"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," Blackburn said.

RICS set out its Brexit wishlist, which calls on the government to lay out a clear timeline and set of ambitions, attract private infrastructure investors, provide access to a skilled international workforce while also developing home-grown talent.

"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.

"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."

A report last month said a "skills gulf" in the UK means Britain needs to recruit 400,000 people each year until 2021, or one worker every 77 seconds, if it's to meet house building and construction needs.

Read more: Construction industry beats expectations - but housebuilding flounders

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