Government To Continue To Let EU Workers Into ‘No-Deal’ UK

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E. info@burflex.co.uk

Government To Continue To Let EU Workers Into ‘No-Deal’ UK

Government To Continue To Let EU Workers Into ‘No-Deal’ UK

One of the biggest concerns for the construction industry at the moment, from huge nationwide house builders to specialist scaffolders in Hull, is a skills shortage in available workers in the industry – a problem that’s only going to deepen if restrictions are put in place on workers coming to the UK from Europe.

However, in an aim to help reduce the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the looming pushed-back deadline, the government has assured Building.co.uk that ‘the borders aren’t going to shut overnight’ in regards to overseas workers coming to the UK. Even in the case of the UK crashing out of the EU in a no-deal Brexit, there will be a transitional period that will end in 2021.

Last year, a white paper for a new immigration system was published which would be set to come into effect in January 2021, and would look to introduce a temporary work visa and see an end to work quotes required for visas.

Speaking to the construction industry news site, Immigration minister Caroline Nokes pressed that there would be no ‘cliff edge’ for the availability of EU labour. “We have to make sure there is still a flow of people and goods and part of that will be putting in transition and temporary arrangements so people can still come here and fill those essential roles,” she said.

Nokes met with the Construction Leadership Council last month, where they recommended dropping the salary threshold for workers from £30,000 to £24,000 and also extending the visa for a 24 month period, rather than just for one year. However, she refused to comment as to whether these suggestions would be implemented. She did say that the Construction Leadership Council put forward a compelling argument for a permanent immigration system, especially in regards to the reliance of London and the south-east on EU workers to fill demand for construction workers in the region.

Another suggestion is that construction workers should be added to the Shortage Occupation List. This list relays occupations that are in demand in the UK and that have parameters outside of regular immigration policy that removes barriers and offers preferential routes for professionals in these roles coming to the UK. Engineers, IT professionals, doctors and others with specialist skills in the tech sector are included in the list, with certain caveats on their employment which would make them eligible to work in the UK in these roles.

However, Nokes did not suggest that this was the route forward for the construction industry, citing that the UK shouldn’t fall back on immigration as the saviour of its skills gap problem. ““I think it’s important to stress that we cannot rely on immigration as the only route to solving our workforce needs,” she said. “The conversations I have had with [contractors have] really focussed on apprenticeships and what they can do to attract young people in the UK into construction.”

Industry professionals have called for senior level construction managers, the likes of construction managers, project managers and quantity surveyors, to be added to the list ahead of Brexit.