THE Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) has made a plea for all EU workers currently employed in the UK construction sector to be assured of their right to remain in this country, in a bid to halt a potential labour shortage.
The situation surrounding the status of EU workers when the UK formally leaves the European Union is still uncertain, more than a year on from the Brexit referendum. FPS members have concerns that failure on the part of the UK Government to “immediately reassure” these workers of a permanent right to residence could result in an exodus of labour at a time when skills shortages are already a major issue in the industry.
Alasdair Henderson, chair of the FPS explained, “There are very real concerns within the specialist contractor sector, as well as the wider construction industry, that uncertainty over EU workers’ right to work and residency within the UK may lead to a sudden scarcity of much-needed labour and skills.
“In a sector already suffering from a recognised shortage of skills, skilled professional workers from the EU not only addresses this, but are also critical to ensuring the Government’s own construction plans marked as essential for UK economic stability and growth, are not put in jeopardy.”
FPS quoted figures suggesting there are around 175,000 EU workers currently employed in UK construction.
Alasdair added, “UK construction has always relied on non-UK workers, not only to fill temporary shortages when demand is high, but to provide valuable educational, technical and cultural diversity, all of which drive innovation and encourage young people to consider the sector as a career option. Giving EU construction workers the continued right to work and reside within the UK will provide welcome reassurance to the UK construction industry, a sector already being battered by various levies and increased bureaucracy.”