The UK construction industry could lose almost 200,000 EU workers post-Brexit should Britain lose access to the single market, RICS has warned.
The surveyor trade body highlighted figures showing 8% of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 people, while 35% of construction professionals surveyed revealed that hiring non-UK workers was important to the success of their businesses.
The organisation is warning that losing these skills would put some of the country’s biggest infrastructure and construction projects under threat.
RICS has cautioned that for Brexit to succeed, it is essential to secure continued access to the EU Single Market or to put alternative plans in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sectors in the UK.
Suggestions include allowing skilled workers from outside the UK to be able to ‘passport’ their services in, similar to the way international financial services firms work.
RICS is also calling for construction professions such as quantity surveyors to feature on the Shortage Occupations List, making it easier for them to be allowed to work in the UK.
Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy for RICS, said: “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.
“Of course, we must also address the need to deliver a construction and property industry that is resilient to future change, and can withstand the impact of any future political or economic shocks.
“Key to that will be growing the domestic skills base. 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, and RICS intends to take this forward as a priority.”