UK Immigration Report: Migration in UK Construction Industry

This week, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) published a report warning the UK Government that the current stringent immigration rules will damage the construction industry in the UK. The report notes that although the Government is aiming to cut migration to “tens of thousands”  from inside and outside of Europe,  the building sector needs more migrant workers in order to function. 

UK Construction Has Always Relied on Migration

The industry has always been reliant on migrant workers, strengthening the link between construction and international migration. For this reason the report acknowledges the industry’s failure to train British nationals to work on construction sites. The chief executive of the CIOB, Chris Blythe stated:

“Globally, construction has always relied on migration to fill in gaps in the labour market – simply cutting off the supply of migrant workers risks seriously damaging the UK’s economic prospects both at home and abroad. But of more importance is the need to address the fact that the industry simply does not train its own people in sufficient numbers. There can be no excuses for construction not to provide more training opportunities for young UK nationals.”

Due to the lack of training the skill shortages in construction has been worsening. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) noted that the sector will need to find almost 224,000 new recruits between 2015 and 2019.

Main Points of CIOB Report

The main points of the CIOB reports are the following:

  • Migration is essential to  the construction industry, in hindsight the current Immigration Rules will only damage the industry in the UK.
  • Limiting freedom of movement from Europe will ‘greatly weaken the UK’s prospects of expanding its positive balance in construction-related trade’.
  • As the industry emerges from the recession construction firms will become more reliant on migrant workers.
  • In order to reduce migration it is inevitable for the construction industry to ‘ invest heavily in training, mentoring and developing young UK citizens’. This will also be the solution to the reduction of youth unemployment.
  • The industry must find a way to retain their older employees, in order to reduce skill shortages.
  • In order to reduce the stresses on the community created by migration, investment in construction must rise.
  • The latest ONS data for 2013 shows a positive trade balance for construction services of £1.5 billion. The architectural, engineering and other technical services sector, which includes a large element of construction-related work, had a positive trade balance of £7.8 billion.

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