Builder with EU flag

Skilled migrant workers should be given special dispensation, training firm urges

Skilled migrant workers who have personally invested in construction training should be excluded from any tightening of immigration laws, a construction training firm has claimed.


Last month, a coalition including representatives from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Building urged Brexit minister David Davis to ensure that construction firms would still have access to skilled migrant labour post-Brexit.

Their letter came just weeks after another construction group labelled the current national skills shortage as “severe”.

Now, Matt Durant, director at Berkshire-based BAM Construction Training, has called upon the government to recognise the contribution of skilled European labourers. 

“In short, they are vital to the industry,” he stressed.

“[There should be] a clause in the revised immigration laws to state that anyone who has spent their own money bettering themselves on things like training or on tools … will be given special dispensation to stay in the UK, on the basis that they continue to contribute to the industry and the economy.

“I think a lot of migrant labourers would put the effort in to meeting the requirements of the new laws and overall [we’d be] seeing the same demographics, just with more leg work done by foreign workers.”

‘Heavily reliant’

Earlier this month, RICS found that 51% of surveyors in the UK reported skills shortages as a constraint on growth.

Quantity surveyors and bricklayers were among those in shortest supply, according to 62% and 56% of respondents respectively.

Steve Turner, head of communications at the Home Builders Federation, warned that a loss of more skilled workers could affect certain areas of the country worse than others.

“If we are to continue to increase output, it is vital that we are able to access skilled labour post exit.

“The industry, particularly in London and the South East, is heavily reliant on labour from abroad and we need to be able to retain the people currently here and attract new people in the coming years.”

Matt explained that some construction firms may be exacerbating the shortage, adding: “At the moment, you tend to find companies have a small group of employees trained on a wide variety of machines – which is great – but they can only drive one at a time."

‘A larger bank of workers’

Currently, the Construction Training Industry Board provides funding for registered employers to train, upskill and qualify their staff.

However, Matt suggested that instead of the existing levy scheme, the government could offer incentives for training and testing to individuals rather than companies.

“By offering the incentives to individuals rather than companies, you would have a larger bank of workers to choose from with less items of plant on their licences, therefore specialising and ultimately being safer on the selected categories they’ve chosen.”

Matt argued that having moved to the UK specifically for work, many European labourers would likely leap at the chance to further improve their employability.

“The majority of [migrant labourers] who come to the centre take on board what is required of them and put in a ridiculous amount of effort until they have passed. 

“Now compare this to some of the English candidates we get through – a lot of them disagree with the theory aspect of the test and therefore don’t put the effort in.

“[They] largely have the mentality of ‘I’ve been doing this for years, I don’t need a ticket’.”

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