Overseas workers to plug labour gap in UK construction – Govt


More overseas labour will have access to UK construction jobs in an attempt by the British Government to plug the skills shortfall, it has been reported. 

Construction worker.
by Rory ButlerMarch 9, 2023

The construction industry will be the first among many sectors in the UK to see targeted immigration used to tackle its shortage of workers, the Financial Times has reported. 

Trades like plasterers and joiners, brickies and roof tilers will be added to the government’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), wrote the FT, but it also applies to “people working in the construction trade generally”, including civils. 

However, it is understood employers will offer a lower salary to overseas workers, as well as a reduction in visa costs. 

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will publish its report next week. The home secretary is expected to accept the proposal. 

Construction Products Association economics director, Noble Francis, responded to the news online, saying the measure “doesn’t help most of construction” as the shortfall in recent years is largely self-employed persons, and that the majority of the industry is SMEs who “struggle with the cost and bureaucracy” of sponsorships.  

“Unfortunately, just adding skilled trades onto the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) doesn’t help most of construction as the 255,000 loss in UK construction workers since 2019 Q1 has been self-employed workers (and note 41% of all UK construction employment is self-employment and 86% of all construction employment is in small and medium-size firms, which often struggle with the cost and bureaucracy of dealing with visa applications) whereas the Shortage Occupation List still requires an employer to pay to sponsor a worker (and deal with the admin),” wrote Mr Francis. 

This view was also echoed by the FT. 

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