The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is calling for construction employers’ understanding and awareness of post-Brexit immigration rules to be improved
A lack of awareness of post-Brexit immigration rules is exacerbating construction’s skills shortages, according to the latest Migration and Construction report by the CITB.
Only half of employers surveyed by CITB said they were aware of the points-based system (PBS). Additionally, just 7% reported that they had signed up as a licensed sponsor.
The UK’s PBS allows businesses to sponsor as many qualifying overseas workers as they need. Most established construction businesses should be eligible for a sponsor licence.
CITB said that addressing any barriers preventing employers, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, accessing the PBS and benefiting from recent changes to the Shortage Occupation List can help employers recruit migrant workers in high-demand occupations.
The share of migrant workers in the construction workforce fell to 9.8% in 2021 from 10.2% in 2020 and 10.7% in 2018. Even in the early stages of recovery from the pandemic, and despite modest growth in output, over half (55%) of employers indicate that they have faced recruitment difficulties over the past two years, the report found.
Plugging the skills gap
Commenting on these findings, David Barnes, policy and public affairs manager at CIOB, said: “Migration is a vital factor in plugging the significant skills gap across the construction industry.
“CIOB welcomes this new report by CITB, which further highlights the clear need to increase the domestic pool of construction workers.
“Research clearly shows many construction companies feel migrant workers are critical to their business, but the new points-based system is convoluted and expensive – potentially deterring companies from looking overseas when recruiting.
“CIOB has also worked closely with the Construction Leadership Council following the recent Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the Shortage Occupation List.
“Together, we identified the most difficult areas to recruit within alongside the need for far more flexibility to help achieve key governmental targets in areas such as housebuilding.
“We urge the government to consider drastic improvements to its engagement with construction companies regarding the points-based system and to review both its cost and navigation.”