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UK Construction Sector To Lose 200k EU Workers Post-Brexit?
A new report has suggested that the construction industry in the UK could lose nearly 200,000 workers from the EU after Brexit if Britain does lose access to the single market – some eight per cent of the entire workforce.
The RICS has now cautioned that it’s vital to ensure that continued access to the single market is a given if Brexit is to be successful, or that there are alternative plans in place to protect the future of both the construction and property sectors here in the UK.
RICS head of policy Jeremy Blackburn commented on the results, saying such figures show that this sector is indeed dependent on thousands of workers from the EU at the moment – and by leaving the single market, it’s possible that the UK’s £500 billion infrastructure pipeline could be brought to a standstill.
To help stem this tide, Mr Blackburn recommended that construction professions like quantity surveyors be added to the UK Shortage Occupations List. In addition, it’s vital to address the need to provide a property and construction industry that can withstand future change and be resilient to the possibility of economic and/or political shocks in the future.
“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. This survey reveals that more work needs to be done to promote the indisputable benefits of these schemes to industry — RICS intends to take this forward as a priority,” Mr Blackburn went on to add.
Earlier this month, Mr Blackburn set out the organisation’s top five strategic priorities for Brexit negotiations. These include setting out a clear timeline and series of ambitions, which will minimise uncertainty and help support the development pipeline; attracting private investors and tackling the infrastructure challenge (key to improving productivity and regional rebalancing); developing UK talent but also providing access for businesses to a skilled international workforce (which must not be hindered by the future immigration system); agreeing on the passporting of professional services in order to support investment in and occupation of commercial property; and ensuring that this new opportunity to reset British agriculture and the environmental policy system is taken.
Mr Blackburn explained that whatever happens during the Brexit negotiations, the built environment in the UK will inevitably be affected. It is the RICS’ belief that resilient, vibrant and sustainable construction, infrastructure and property sectors are absolutely essential to secure the UIK’s long-term prosperity, which will grow by being able to access labour, markets and capital worldwide.
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