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CECA investigates Brexit impact on skills shortage

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The largest survey of its kind will ask 20,000 companies to reveal their experience of skills shortages in the industry.  

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) along with eight other leading industry associations and companies have united to explore what skills are most in demand as the UK prepares to exit the European Union.   

The consortium has designed a questionnaire, to be sent to 20,000 companies across the UK, to explore perspectives on potential skills shortages. 

There are fears that changes to immigration policy will affect access to labour in the UK. The most recent data, taken from the 2011 census, estimates that approximately 11% of the UK’s construction workforce was non-UK born.

A leaked version of the new government immigration white paper contains a proposal for a new 11-month visa with “restricted entitlements and rights” targeted at sectors such as construction, the Telegraph has reported

The survey asks companies about how hard they have found it to hire new workers across a range of professions including construction and process managers, skilled labourers and trades.  

A previous review of skills was carried out by Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) vice president Ed McCann. McCann led a wide-ranging review of the skills required of today’s practising civil engineer, and published preliminary results in May which saw a high demand for technical skills over digital skills. 

The results of the new survey will be used to inform the industry about where it needs to invest in fostering new skills and hiring new workers. 

One potential route the industry can take to diversify the skills market is to open more apprenticeship schemes to draw young people into careers. Thames Tideway recently announced it was hosting the first apprenticeship for the UK’s future tunnellers

The research will also be submitted to the government and migration advisory committee to support decision-making on appropriate migration for workers from the EU and rest of the world.  

Mace chief executive and skills lead for the Construction Leadership Council Mark Reynolds said it is important the industry properly supports recruitment.  

“We know that our sector will need to recruit hundreds of thousands of new workers over the coming years. We want to ensure that this recruitment is supported with targeted actions by industry and government,” he said.  

“This first step in achieving this is the development of a detailed picture of those occupations where we face the biggest challenge. I welcome the fact that the industry is unifying to develop this research, and encourage all companies from across the industry to take part in the survey”  

Chief executive of the Association for Consultancy & Engineering Hannah Vickers said the impact of leaving the EU would have an uncertain impact on the skills market in the UK.  

“With all the uncertainty around Brexit and its impact on skills, we need to make sure that our industry has a sound evidence base from which to argue, which is why I will be asking all our members to participate in the survey,” she said. 

“We will need to come together in one voice and collectively make the case for construction to Government, ensuring that any post-Brexit agreement secures the skills our sector needs now and into the future.” 

In order to ensure that the survey has as wide reach as possible, companies that are not members are also invited to take part in the survey, which can be found at 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The skills shortage in the construction industry is a consequence of not investing in better delivery methods and deskilling the industry. With the odd notable exception no main, subcontractor or builder is making the investment needed. We prefer to build in the same way as Stonehenge was built as it carries less commercial risk than to invest and deskill.
    Why is this? Predominately the aggressive commercial terms imposed by contractors on their sub contractors deters investment whilst those same employing contractors, with one or two notable exceptions, do not lead the way themselves. The labour situation will happen with or without Brexit and its time the construction industry grew up and got on with it instead on manoeuvring for more government assistance.

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