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Mayor of London warns Brexit could cripple construction industry

by: Edward Murray
  • 27/02/2017
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Mayor of London warns Brexit could cripple construction industry
Over a quarter of London’s construction workforce is from the European Union (EU), inflaming concerns that Brexit could cripple the industry, according to the Mayor of London.

The figures come from a report published today called ‘Housing in London’ that says 95,000 of the 350,000 that work in London’s construction sector come from the EU.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is in the grip of a serious housing crisis – and fixing it is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. While we are working to train up more Londoners to have the skills to work in construction, you can’t escape the fact that a ‘Hard Brexit’ could leave a quarter of the skilled construction workforce in the capital high and dry, which would have a crippling effect on our plans to build the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

Khan said London could not afford to lose construction workers at a time when there was already a skills shortage in the industry and it required an extra 13,000 new workers each year until 2021 to plug the existing gap and to meet additional demands.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council and member of the London Economic Area Partnership, said: “We urgently need more skilled construction workers in London. The Mayor has asked me to bring together partners from local government, developers, the construction industry and training providers to address this.”

Looking to the future, Mark Farmer, chief executive officer of Cast Real Estate & Construction Consultancy, said it was imperative the industry found a way to generate the skills it needed in the years ahead.

He commented: “As part of a longer term plan, the construction sector, in partnership with developers and supported by the Greater London Authority, needs to come up with a clear strategy for attracting and training more home grown talent and also developing more modern, higher productivity construction techniques which are less labour intensive, helping to future proof the industry.”

The current skills shortage in the construction industry is not just affecting London and research published towards the end of last year by Build UK found that labour shortages prevented 25% of contractors from bidding for work in the third quarter of 2016; a marked increase on the 16% reported in the previous quarter.

The shortage was also cited as an industry problem by Bovis Homes Group in its recent results, when chairman Ian Tyler, said: “The current shortage of skilled construction labour in the industry remains an operational challenge for the industry as a whole. This constraint has continued to impact our business during 2016.”

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