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Don’t put immigration cap on civil engineers says ICE

Ministers should exclude foreign civil engineers from the proposed cap on immigration, the ICE said this week.

Stopping foreign engineers from working in the UK could prevent the construction industry from delivering vital civil engineering projects, it warned.

The warning comes in the ICE’s final response to the UK Border Agency’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) consultation into the proposed cap on economic migration.

It stressed that although the construction industry is currently experiencing a downturn, it is set for a period of much increased activity by 2014 that will require a high level of specialist skills.

Short termism

ICE consultation committee chairman and ICE vice president Barry Clarke said the history of stop-start government procurement has meant industry has been reluctant to make long-term investments in the UK’s skill base. As a result there is a skills crisis in the civil engineering sector.

“This has been exacerbated by the economic downturn. Many graduates are having to turn to other sectors for employment and engineers out of work are unable to continue their professional development.

“when construction activity rises in the near future we may find we have plenty of qualified engineers, but a distinct lack of experienced specialist engineers.”

Barry Clarke


“Consequently, when construction activity rises in the near future we may find we have plenty of qualified engineers, but a distinct lack of experienced specialist engineers.”

“It is the government’s responsibility to give industry the confidence to invest in long-term specialist skills training and development, through consistent and clear approaches to planning and procurement.

“However, until this can be achieved we must ensure the doors remain open to highly specialist engineers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who can help us deliver the critical infrastructure projects, crucial to our long-term economic growth and the shift to a low carbon economy,” said Clarke.

  • See the full consultation response here migration

Readers' comments (1)

  • We've been complaining of low pay and poor status for years. Let them cap immigration of Civil Engineers, it will reduce supply and as demand increases after the recession, so will pay and status. This could be just what we are looking for. We live in a free market, lets have some market forces applied.

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