Migration and Construction: The view from employers, recruiters and non-UK workers

The British construction workforce has long included workers from outside Britain, most recently those from Eastern European countries, including EU accession states.

While broad official data from the Labour Force Survey are available on the percentage of non-UK workers in the sector, more granular information on what roles they perform, their skills, and why employers take them on has been extremely limited.

This has made it difficult for employers, forecasters and policymakers to understand fully the role non-UK workers play in the sector.

In the light of Brexit and potential future limitations on labour flows, especially from the EU, CITB has worked with IFF Research and the Institute of Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick on this comprehensive study of the role of non-UK workers in construction. 

This study is intended to help construction firms of all sizes, policymakers, training providers and construction clients understand the current role of non-UK workers in the sector with a view towards improving workforce planning and skills development.

It shows that while the British construction workforce is still largely home-grown, migrants play a critical role, particularly in London where they make up half the workforce, and in the South East.

The large sample of survey data refutes some commonly held ideas about the role of migrants in construction, for example that they provide cheap labour, that they work only in low skilled or labourer roles, and that they have significantly different skills levels than their UK-born counterparts. 

The main findings are presented in Migration and Construction research summary (667kb, PDF).

The full research report, Migration and Construction: The view from employers, recruiters and non-UK workers is also available to download (1.4MB, PDF).

If you would like to know more about the research or have questions regarding migration more generally, please email Adam Evans, Research Analyst at adam.evans@citb.co.uk

Download this report

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