At the start of last year, financial group Smith and Williamson undertook a survey that showed only 15% of construction employees wanted to leave the EU. Now that article 50 has officially been submitted, only time will tell if their fears were well founded.
The construction industry has been growing consistently year on year for the last decade, and whilst the industry has been a lucrative source of growth for the economy and the recruitment sector, many now fear that an uncertain future for Britain could leave the construction industry open to a decline. Whilst a stop to trade is only a small concern and not a long term fear, the main issues facing the construction industry are changes to free movement of people.
Approximately 3 million roles in the UK are construction jobs, many of which are filled by skilled and non-skilled EU nationals. If limitations on free movement are imposed, many of these workers may opt to work in other countries such as France where access to work will be a lot easier.
With so many skilled roles in the industry to fulfil, there are thoughts that it has been the freedom of movement that has allowed the UK construction sector to be so successful and has helped to fill the wide range of roles that have been available.
Depending upon how immigration laws in the UK change could determine whether a decline in Britain’s construction workforce could take place. Although the future is uncertain, the potential loss of EU nationals would present a range of new opportunities for British nationals, who with skills and expertise for the industry can be assured there will always be work available to them.
Aside from the freedom of movement, many employees in the industry also worry whether working conditions may change after Brexit, as the EU is largely responsible for our current working hours, health and safety and regulations. Whilst this may be a concern; like many who work in the industry we know that those in top level positions will not allow conditions to change.