Simple Brexit visa system needed for construction workers, says FMB

A simple, flexible migration system for construction workers post-Brexit is essential if the government is to meet its housing and infrastructure targets, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) research report ‘Migration and Construction’ published today.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The CITB report is absolutely right to highlight the barriers facing construction employers needing to employ non-UK workers. The government needs to look again at its post-Brexit immigration system to make it easier and simpler for small building companies needing to recruit non-UK labour. There is currently a serious skills crisis in the building industry which explains why 9% of the construction workforce is made up of EU workers. Given it takes many years to train a high-quality tradesperson there will, in the short term at least, continue be an urgent need to recruit non-UK labour. Without this labour the industry will not be able to deliver the homes and key infrastructure projects that are needed to underpin the UK’s national productivity and growth.”

Berry concluded: “The current non-EU migration system is exceptionally difficult for small employers to engage with taking as long as eight months in some instances to secure specialist tradespeople to come to the UK to work on sites. Most small businesses simply don’t have the time and resources to take that on. It would be very damaging just to extend this system to EU workers without seriously reforming it. Extending ‘low skilled’ visas from 12 months to 24 months; allowing non-UK born workers the opportunity to transition to a ‘high skilled’ visa; and the creation of an ‘umbrella sponsorship’ scheme would help ease concerns about how construction companies are going to fill the skills gaps.”