Brexit could prove disastrous for delivering new homes and infrastructure unless the construction industry can draw on EU workers while training the UK’s domestic workforce, MPs have claimed.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment reveals nearly 200,000 people from the EU work in the UK construction industry - equivalent to a workforce to build 16 Crossrails - which the country cannot afford to lose.
Its report, commissioned by the Construction Industry Council, warns of a perfect storm of an ageing workforce and more people leaving the industry than entering it, creating a skills crisis even without Brexit.
The cross-party group of parliamentarians calls on the government to put in place transitional arrangements to ensure existing EU migrant workers can remain in the UK.
It calls for a single body to provide strategic oversight on training and skills at all levels and attracting new talent across the spectrum of the built environment, rather than just trades.
“Brexit presents huge risks to the UK construction sector and, as a consequence, to our ability to deliver the homes and infrastructure that we urgently need,” said group chairman Oliver Colvile. “It is hard to overstate the importance of locking in construction to the heart of the industrial strategy and taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to the challenges facing the construction sector in mitigating the risks.”
The RTPI said it shared many of the fears expressed by the parliamentarians.
“The report draws attention to an issue which has huge impact on the delivery of much needed housing and the wider economy and identifies a series of constructive approaches to address the challenges the sector faces in the light of Brexit,” said RTPI president Stephen Wilkinson.
“It echoes the Institute’s own concerns for the capacity of planning expertise in the UK after Brexit and that of other built environment professionals such as surveyors and architects. It is essential that the UK built environment continue to act as magnet for the brightest and the best professionals from the EU and across the world.”