Construction employers want greater simplicity and a breathing space on planned visa restrictions following the UK’s departure from the EU, says CITB.
The research report, Migration and Construction, finds that just 3% of construction employers have the necessary experience in handling visa applications, with two-thirds saying that the process is difficult.
Under the new post-Brexit immigration system - due to be introduced in January 2021 - employers will have to learn how to manage visa applications for EU workers. Any system that makes the hiring of migrant workers too bureaucratic threatens to block the work pipeline, including the Government’s homebuilding and key infrastructure ambitions.
CITB Policy Director, Steve Radley, said: “The industry is gearing up to face this challenge by training more home-grown workers. The intention is to have an extra 44,000 more British-based people in construction by 2025. This will be achieved through a mix of growing apprenticeships and widening the pool of talent, retaining more workers in the sector for longer, and exploiting technological advances.”
The report reveals that:
There are three key recommendations:
An ‘Umbrella Sponsorship’ scheme is needed to allow self-employed non-UK workers to obtain sponsorship, so that their skills are not lost.
Commenting on the new report, CITB Policy Director, Steve Radley said: “Migrant workers have long played a key role in the UK’s construction sector. They make up 14% of the construction workforce, a percentage that rises to 54% in London. They give employers the flexibility to respond quickly to skills needs.
“Employers are raising real concerns about the future 12 month visa scheme. They want to see it extended to 24 months, and for workers to be given the opportunity to ‘train to remain’. A new scheme must additionally be put in place to enable self-employed migrants to work in the sector.
“It’s important that construction has the breathing space to adjust to new changes. CITB will work closely with Government to see that a simple, flexible migration system is put in place to support employers’ skills requirements, while industry grows its domestic workforce.”