Construction industry calls for immigration system to cope with lack of skilled workers

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A SYSTEM of immigration that provides the construction sector with enough skilled workers to build the homes the country needs must be brought in, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

The FMB – the largest trade association in the UK construction industry – warned it needs workers to build homes and infrastructure projects.

Brian Berry, chief executive, said: ‘The UK construction industry has been heavily reliant on migrant workers from Europe for decades – at present, 12 per cent of construction workers are of non-UK origin.

‘The majority of these are from EU countries such as Poland, Romania and Lithuania and they’ve helped the industry bounce back from the economic downturn when 400,000 skilled workers left our industry, most of which did not return.

‘It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the free-flowing tap of migrant workers from Europe is not turned off.

‘If ministers want to meet their house and infrastructure targets, they have to ensure the new system of immigration is responsive to the needs of industry.’

Steve Cripps, construction manager at PMC Construction & Development Services, in Portsmouth, said: ‘There’s not enough English supply at the moment, this will hinder the progress of the industry.

‘There are not enough English people looking to come in to construction. I’m worried about the industry.’

Derren Gates, from Williams and Co Plumbing and Heating Supplies in Portsmouth, said: ‘In the short term there will be a fallout, but in the long term it will be good for the country.

‘It goes two ways, it might open doors for our own apprenticeships and now we’re going back to strengthening the UK’s industry.’