UNITE has called upon the UK construction sector to spell out its training plans to avoid a “calamitous” Brexit for the industry.
With fears growing over skills shortages and access to EU workers, the sector’s biggest union said it was time construction demonstrated its commitment to training home grown talent through apprenticeships.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said, “The ongoing uncertainty over the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK is resulting in workers leaving the UK and is exacerbating the deepening construction skills crisis and threatening to seriously damage the industry. But those trade bodies need to set out what they intend to do to kick their addiction to cheap, foreign labour and horrific employment practices, not just ask how they can go on relying on EU labour after March 2019.
“Tens of thousands of young people are being placed in ‘dead end’ classroom based construction courses and these courses totally dwarf the number of construction apprentices beginning their training. This is at the same time that the CITB plans to cease providing training directly and instead divest courses to other training providers. It is clear that the industry needs to get its house in order.
“Unite is renewing its call on the industry to work with us to ensure that major construction projects train high numbers of apprentices. Unite will kick down doors to ensure that the number of high quality apprenticeships increases.”
Steve Radley, policy director at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) said, “We’re working closely with our industry to help it develop the right strategy to recruit and train more of its own workforce in order to offset any impact from Brexit. This strategy will be based on a full programme of evidence on what industry’s skill needs will be and the best ways to meet them, including boosting productivity. It will also build on the new Industrial Strategy.
“CITB will lead on developing the evidence and will work closely with industry and government to agree this plan next year. At the same time, employers will need to lead the discussions with government on what this means for the industry’s future migration strategy and any breathing space that they need to implement their plan.”