Brexit could see mass exodus of construction workers

Latest News Mon, Feb 11, 2019 8:59 AM

Results from a survey of over 10,500 construction workers carried out by world leading recruiter Randstad, has revealed that one in three EU nationals have considered leaving the UK because of the Brexit referendum.

The truth is that it’s the potential drop in construction projects, subsequent funding, and availability of jobs that’s the biggest driving force influencing the 39% who are expressing concern. This is followed by uncertainty over trade deals with the EU (19%), new findings suggest.

A no-deal Brexit raises the prospect of delays and cost increases, as employers face difficulties to get vital EU workers to UK building sites, threatening timing of projects. With seven percent of construction workers in the UK and over a quarter of London’s construction workforce coming from other EU countries (ONS), plus the £10bn (15%) of building materials coming from the EU, it’s clear that action needs to be taken. The good news is that there is still time to make a difference and retain highly-skilled workers.

As the country gets closer to withdrawing from the EU, it is becoming clearer that employers and employees are skeptical of what the industry will look like later this year in terms of workforce and materials supply. Of all of those surveyed, one fifth admitted that they have considered leaving the country amid Brexit uncertainties.

Owen Goodhead, Managing Director of Randstad Construction Property & Engineering said: “It’s interesting to discover a disconnect between what the wider population think are key issues for EU nationals working in construction in the UK, and what those individuals actually believe. With the potential impact of Brexit being so high on the news agenda we were able to capture an incredibly relevant audience, allowing us to really tap into the minds of the current workforce and understand exactly how they think.

Where UK workers believe complications around visas are the main problem driving EU nationals away from the UK construction industry, the reality is that it’s the potential drop in projects and jobs which could cause workers to explore other opportunities. This valuable insight can help employers get ahead of the curve while there’s still time, by preparing for a post-Brexit industry - the key is to listen to the current workforce, focus on retention strategy and to ensure robust contingency plans are in place.”

Specialist recruiter Randstad has compiled a report following the survey containing top tips and guidance for employers within the construction industry. There is still time to act. Employers must be adequately prepared to continue supplying skilled individuals once the UK leaves the European Union, to ensure the industry which employs 10%* of workers in the country continues to thrive.

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