The government has updated its occupation shortage list to include five more construction roles
The decision was announced in the Spring Budget as part of measures to address gaps in the UK’s skilled workforce.
The decision follows the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) calls for government to make it easier for the sector to employ migrant workers under the points based immigration system.
The five occupations approved by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) are:
- Bricklayers and masons
- Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
- Carpenters and joiners
- Construction and building trades n.e.c*
Welcoming the decision, a CIOB spokesperson said: “The construction industry continues to face numerous skills shortages, resulting from a mixture of lack of new entrants, to skilled professionals reaching retirement age. This is why migration continues to be a necessity for construction, helping dampen the harmful effects of having a volatile labour market.
“We are therefore pleased that…the government has accepted the MAC’s interim recommendations to initially add five construction occupations to the shortage occupation list (SOL), ahead of its wider SOL review concluding in Autumn 2023, with reviews taking place more regularly.
“CIOB has been working with a consortium of trade and professional bodies in the built environment to inform the MAC on these skills gaps and shortages and hopes that the government will continue to listen to the advice of the sector.”
Chronic skills shortages
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has also praised the move, which it hopes will alleviate chronic skills shortages in the sector.
FMB chief executive, Brian Berry, said “It’s good to see the government listening to the FMB and other industry stakeholders about the current skills shortages. Adding trades such as bricklayers and carpenters to the shortage occupation list delivers on calls from the construction industry.
“Recent data from the FMB State of Trade survey reveals that 60% of jobs are stalled due to labour shortages. The construction sector needs at least 225,000 additional workers by 2027 to meet demand, and many more if we are to tackle energy efficiency improvements to homes.”
Simon Rowland, UK partner in the construction team at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, also welcomed the announcement. "Whilst the last 18 months have seen extreme volatility in materials pricing and shortages which has caused pain for contractors and clients alike, the loss to the sector of qualified and unqualified labour has been a constant drain on the industry for a number of years,” he said.
Rowland added that the decision to accept the MAC’s interim recommendations will hopefully ease the immediate strain on the sector but warned that further action must be taken.
He said: “Obviously further work needs to be done in this area – but that is longer term, requiring investment in apprentices, schools, and retraining bodies to make the construction industry a more attractive and diverse place to work."
*Those working in construction and building trades n.e.c. undertake a variety of tasks in the construction, alteration, maintenance and repair of buildings, steeples, industrial chimneys and other tall structures.