The UK construction industry could fail to keep nearly 200,000 jobs if the UK loses access to the EU single market, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The new RICS survey reveals that 8% of the UK construction force comes from the EU and that losing access to the EU single market could risk ‘jeopardising a predicted £500bn project pipeline’ in the country.
With the UK already facing a construction skills shortage, RICS has warned that it is vital to have access to the EU single market or put plans in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sector.
30% of the construction professionals surveyed said that employing non-UK workers contributed to their businesses’ success, while 20% believe that the apprenticeship schemes were not effective.
Jeremy Blackburn, RICS’ head of policy, said: “These figures reveal that the UK construction industry is currently dependent on thousands of EU workers. It is in all our interests that we make a success of Brexit, but a loss of access to the single market, has the potential to slowly bring the UK’s £500bn infrastructure pipeline to a standstill.
“That means that unless access to the single market is secured or alternative plans are put in place, we won’t be able to create the infrastructure needed to enable our cities to compete on a global stage. We have said before that this is a potential stumbling block for the Government, which is working to deliver both its Housing White Paper and Industrial Strategy.
“A simple first step would be to ensure that construction professions, such as quantity surveyors, feature on the 'UK Shortage Occupations List'. Ballet dancers won’t improve our infrastructure or solve the housing crisis, yet their skills are currently viewed as essential, whereas construction professionals are not.”
Prime minister Theresa May can now start the formal process of leaving the EU, as the MPs and Lords passed the Article 50 bill on Monday.
* For more information on the UK construction market, visit the Construction Intelligence Center Report Store.