New RICS figures reveal that the UK construction industry could lose almost 200,000 EU workers post-Brexit should Britain lose access to the single market, putting some of the country’s biggest infrastructure and construction projects under threat.

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At a glance:

  • 8% of UK construction workforce comes from the EU
  • Post-Brexit, should UK lose access to single market, 176,500 jobs could be under threat
  • Industry is already facing skills shortages, jeopardising a predicted £500 billion project pipeline

Access to skills

RICS has cautioned that for Brexit to succeed, it is essential to secure continued access to the EU Single Market or to put alternative plans in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sectors in the UK.

Latest RICS figures show that 8% of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 people. 30% of construction professionals surveyed revealed that hiring non-UK workers was important to the success of their businesses.

The UK is already in the grip of a construction skills crisis. While some overseas professionals, such as ballet dancers, are regarded as critical by the UK Government, and are therefore prioritised during the visa application process, construction professions have not yet been added to the 'UK Shortage Occupations List'. RICS is warning that this could already be placing the UK’s predicted £500 billion infrastructure pipeline under threat and must be addressed as a priority.

When asked about the effectiveness of current plans to address the UK’s long-term skills shortages, 20% of respondents felt that apprenticeship schemes were not effective at all.

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