Some will be celebrating, others lamenting. Either way, in the coming weeks and months the country will have to come together and move forward. The effects Brexit will have on the construction industry will no doubt be profound. Here, we have collected the views of some of the leading figures in the industry in order to shed light on what is an unprecedented situation.
The Federation of Master Builders has warned that the Government must ensure that our new system of immigration provides the construction sector with enough skilled workers to build the homes and infrastructure projects we need.
Responding to the British electorate’s decision, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said:
“The UK construction industry has been heavily reliant on migrant workers from Europe for decades now – at present, 12 per cent of the British construction workers are of non-UK origin.
“The majority of these workers are from EU countries such as Poland, Romania and Lithuania and they have helped the construction industry bounce back from the economic downturn when 400,000 skilled workers left our industry, most of which did not return.
Berry continued: “At the same time, we need to ensure that we invest in our own home-grown talent through apprenticeship training. We need to train more construction apprentices so we are not overly reliant on migrant workers from Europe or further afield.”
The National Federation of Builders has said it hopes that the Government will not repeat past mistakes of cutting capital spending to communities and local Government. Construction remains a key driver of economic performance and will need a committed level of investment over the coming years.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “While we have a decision, there still remains economic uncertainty. What we need now more than ever are clear heads making decisions for the long term. Every £1 invested in construction generates £2.84 in wider economic benefits. This is the very time to show that the UK has the industrial capacity and intellectual capital to thrive outside the EU.”
Barry Dennis, Chair of the RWM Ambassadors Group
The results of the EU Referendum indicate that the majority of the UK electorate wish to leave the EU which means we need to face the unknown and carve out a stronger future for Britain on our own. We have already seen the effects of this referendum result on the markets and although we expected this volatility, it is still very daunting. It is early days and we will need to see how the UK Government responds. But what we do know already, is that for a stronger and more sustainable future for our sector, we will need to lead strategically and develop solutions as opposed to waiting for steer from existing legislation.
James Davis, head of building consultancy at Daniel Watney LLP
“Immigration has been at the heart of the referendum debate, and limiting freedom of movement will undoubtedly be central to any deal with the EU. But the construction industry is reliant on labour from Europe and beyond, and given the skills shortage we already face, any restrictions we face will only cause further damage.”
Chris Ferguson, Team Manager for Built Environment at JAM Recruitment
The implications that will now arise from the UK leaving the European Union are vast and wide ranging, with an impact expected to be seen across a whole host of areas – we’ve all heard of the changes that a break away will have on topics such as the economy and immigration, however the decision to leave could lead to the UK suffering from an even greater skills shortage.
The main concerns within the built environment industry are centred on the potential increase in construction costs. London’s largest private housebuilder, Galliard Homes, is warning that construction costs will rise 15% now that the country has voted for Brexit, and how immigration restrictions could inflate the existing industry’s skills shortage.
After experiencing first-hand the caution and hesitation from clients to recruit until the outcome of the referendum, we will now see if the well-publicised concerns over rising construction costs, disruption on the import of construction materials, and the increased inability to fill jobs in a skill short industry due to a successful leave result will come to fruition.