With the Prime Minister primed to invoke Article 50, triggering the official start of the process to divorce the UK from the EU, a leading chartered body has warned that Britain could lose 8% of its construction workers in the wake of Brexit.
A report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) cautions that the existing construction skills crisis in Britain could be compounded by an exodus of EU workers, putting key construction and infrastructure projects under threat.
On 29th March Prime Minister Theresa May is due to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the trigger to officially notify the EU that the UK is leaving. This paves the way for two years of negotiations on Britain’s terms of exit and future relations.
In their report, RICS calls for the UK government to secure continued access to the EU Single Market or to put alternative measures in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sectors in the UK.
As a first step they are urging the government to ensure that construction professions are included on the “UK Shortage Occupations List”.
RICS highlighted that some overseas professions, such as ballet dancers, are regarded as critical by the UK government, and are therefore prioritised during the visa application process.
RICS Head of UK Policy, Jeremy Blackburn said: “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.”
He continued: “A simple first step would be to ensure that construction professions such as quantity surveyors feature on the Shortage Occupations List. 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.”
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