The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned that almost two-hundred thousand construction jobs are at risk if the UK leaves the single market, jeopardising half-a-billion pounds worth of infrastructure projects.
A hard Brexit could significantly impact around 8 per cent of Britain’s construction workers, around 176,500 professionals, that are EU nationals, which could cause knock-on effects to some of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects.
Jeremy Blackburn, the RICS head of UK policy, commented: “These figures reveal that the UK construction industry is currently dependent on thousands of EU workers.
It is in all our interests that we make a success of Brexit, but a loss of access to the single market has the potential to slowly bring the UK’s £500 billion infrastructure pipeline to a standstill.
Jeremy added: “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.”
The RICS survey also placed emphasis on the construction industry’s ongoing skills shortage, with 30 per cent of construction professionals stating that hiring non-UK workers was essential if the industry is to meet demand.
Unite acting general secretary, Gail Cartmail, commented on the report: “This survey demonstrates once again that the government’s failure to guarantee the rights of existing EU citizens is playing fast and loose with the well-being of the UK economy. The ongoing uncertainty over the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK post-Brexit is already resulting in workers voting with their feet and leaving the UK.
This will exacerbate the deepening construction skills crisis, resulting in projects being delayed or cancelled, which will severally damage the health of the industry.
It is essential that the government wakes up to the threat faced to the UK construction industry by reversing decades of neglect and massively increasing the number of high quality apprenticeships so the UK can increasingly become self-sufficient.
This will not be achieved unless the government introduces strict public procurement policies forcing companies bidding for all public sector contracts to recruit and train high numbers of apprentices. The lassiez faire model of construction apprentice training has been an unmitigated failure.”
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