While the UK construction industry continues to perform well despite Brexit concerns, safeguarding for the future impact on the sector is now a priority.
With the UK set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, there are some testing factors for a construction industry already under pressure. This has led insurers to assess how the impact of Brexit will affect the specialist cover they provide for the building sector.
As a result, specialist insurers are beginning to offer bespoke information and advice to address concerns held by construction industry bosses. Just announced is Britain’s first ever Brexit insurance consultations, launched by insurance experts constructioninsure.co.uk. The objective is to provide both contractors and builders one-to-one consultations to discuss the potential pitfalls and intricacies that Brexit may have on their individual businesses.
Skills shortage cannot be overlooked
Promoting awareness and allaying worries within the construction sector will include looking at the issue of skills and the ongoing skills shortage faced by the industry. It is estimated that across the UK’s construction industry, more than 120,000 workers are EU migrants, many in skilled roles.
Experts have flagged the concern that should a large percentage of these EU nationals choose to return to Europe, this will cause a costly problem for the UK’s building firms. The knock-on effect will be an urgent need to hire and invest in training UK staff to fill the vacancies created by a mass exodus of EU workers.
Ensure insurance for employees is fit for Brexit
The specialist insurers are also aware of the importance of safeguarding construction companies when it comes to insurance relating to employees. Any shift in the status of employees is likely to affect a company’s pay roll structure and therefore, companies will need to guarantee their insurance policies reflect this to provide the appropriate cover.
Richard Forrest Smith, CEO at insurer ECIC, said: “One of the key problems the sector faces as a consequence of Brexit is that ‘Made in the UK’ is not a term that is strongly associated with the UK’s construction sector.
“The Construction Industry Training Board’s research shows one in three construction firms employs migrant workers and ONS data shows these workers are on average much younger than UK nationals working in the sector.”
“Just 18% are aged 45 or above, compared with almost half of UK nationals (47%). This valuable human resource is at risk of dissipating following Brexit. A scarcity of skills may push labour prices higher and increase reliance on sub-contractors. ECIC’s own research in 2017 found that 78% of contractors had been impacted by skills shortages and that in order to help bridge this gap, 25% were planning to use more labour only sub-contractors and 31% planned to use more bona fide sub-contractors.
“Recognising the challenge, the government recently announced a £22 million investment in 20 onsite skills training centres, with 158,000 new construction jobs to be created in the UK over the next five years.”