A third of construction firms surveyed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) expect to provide more jobs for British workers amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.
The organisation’s annual Migration Survey showed while there are challenges ahead for a sector tipped to grow by a quarter of million workers in the next four years, British construction is a ‘robust’ industry which will provide more opportunities for British workers, as the number of migrant workers falls.
The findings revealed that 41% of employers will look to increase the skills of British workers, with 30% providing permanent jobs for Brits, 24% increasing minimum salaries, and 16% will look to take on more local employees.
While only 16% of companies expect that issues with migrant workers not remaining in the UK will impact their firm, almost three-quarters (72%) expect it to impact on the sector – with a quarter (27%) anticipating a serious impact.
While the report showed that most employers reported no change in their number of migrant workers over the last year, 13% reported a fall in employing them, and only 2% a rise. The largest fall (41%) was among those employing non-UK workers indirectly (for example self-employed). Just over a tenth of the construction workforce are migrants, with the proportion falling from 10.7% in 2018 to 10.2% – a drop of about 5% in two years – with most coming from the EU.
Steve Radley, director of strategy and policy at CITB, said, “Construction faces a number of challenges over the next few years, among them declining numbers of migrant workers, as Covid-19 has seen more workers leave the country and with a new tighter migration system. Employers expect to provide more jobs for British workers but for some occupations and employers, this is already proving challenging with order books growing, particularly in housing and infrastructure.
“The government has made some important commitments such as reforming FE, introducing construction traineeships and increasing access to unused apprenticeship levy funding. It’s vital that we work together to ensure these deliver the skills construction needs. It’s also critical that employers understand the new points-based system and have confidence it will respond quickly where there are pressures on key skills.”