Construction workers from the European Union need to have access to UK visas and “settled status” in Britain after Brexit if the industry is to avoid a major skills gap, industry bodies have warned.
Seven construction bodies have suggested that the construction sector, which currently employs around three million people, could suffer from “cliff edge” skills shortages is a new UK visa system is not implemented rapidly once Brexit takes effect.
In their new Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto, the bodies have highlighted the level of skills shortages already blighting the industry, adding that these could be aggravated should a transitional period not be allowed for EU workers who are already here or due to arrive.
"For those entering the UK during the implementation period there appears to be little certainty that they will have the right to remain beyond those two years," the manifesto said.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders added that the sector plans to recruit additional workers from the UK but is unable fill the gaps before Brexit comes into play.
"We know we need to step up as an industry and train more home-grown talent but we also have to be realistic about the future,” he said.
"There will continue to be some ongoing need for migrant workers and our post-Brexit migration rules will need to be fit for purpose," he said.
In response to the manifesto, a spokesman from the Home Office stated that the government is planning to develop a post-Brexit UK immigration system that works in the best interests of the whole country.