Although the Brexit countdown has started with the UK set to quit the EU in less than a year, the good news is that Theresa May’s government has negotiated a 21-month long implementation period with the EU, which will commence in March 2019 post-Brexit.
Essentially, this gives the UK a period of stability and will maintain the status quo until the end of 2020, during which time businesses can plan and incorporate changes to their operations and infrastructure to reflect the impact of Brexit.
Construction industry reports skill shortage
Within the business community, the building and construction sector is already faced with a skills shortage. The CPA Construction Trade Survey published research in February highlighting that in Q4 2017, 50% of contractors struggled to hire joiners and carpenters and 67% failed to find enough bricklayers. Other skill shortages have been reported in managerial positions, including site managers, planning and civil engineering, as well as there being lots of opportunity for qualified plumbers and roofing contractors.
Building sector promoting careers in construction
Conscious that it needs to boost its workforce and retain existing skilled labour to meet new government housing quotas, the housebuilding and construction sector is driving forward a nationwide programme of new recruitment initiatives and education awareness programmes such as offering more apprenticeships and annual events like ‘Open Doors’ which gives visitors the opportunity to take a guided tour around participating new-build development sites across the UK.
Over half London’s building workforce is from the EU
Employees coming from the EU have bolstered the UK construction industry’s labour force with the largest number working on sites in London, amounting to around half of building site employees. Looking ahead to Brexit, there is likely to continue to be a need to attract ongoing construction skills and workers from the EU. This could result in work permits being issued and will involve setting up administrative and financial schemes to support the process, which larger companies have the resources to do.
There is definite scope for enhanced opportunities for domestic workers and the UK will need to allow a contingency for the age-demographic that in a decade could see half a million retiring from jobs in construction.
Theresa May’s frictionless border
Prime Minister May said: “There will be ‘as frictionless a border as possible’ after 2020, the UK will not be a part of the customs union and the government doesn’t want to see the introduction of any tariffs.” Fortunately for the construction industry, tariffs on construction products are already relatively low.
UK land of employment opportunity within construction
If the building sector reviews the trade and skills needs it has now and communicates directly with government, along with remodelling business infrastructure to cope with potential problems thrown up as Brexit happens, then it could offer a wealth of employment opportunity for both UK and European workers within what is set to be a booming market.