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CBI: Labour shortages for ‘up to two years’

Problems with the supply of labour in the construction industry could last for up to two years and the end of the furlough scheme may make no difference.

That’s according to CBI Director-General Tony Danker who has called on the Government to to get a grip on the situation and place drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers on the Shortage Occupation List.

He said: “Labour shortages are biting right across the economy. While economists still predict growth returning to pre-pandemic levels later this year, furlough ending is not the panacea some people think will magically fill labour supply gaps. These shortages are already affecting business operations and will have a negative impact on the UK’s economic recovery.

“Other European countries are also experiencing staffing shortages as their economies bounce back. In the UK, many overseas workers left during the pandemic and new immigration rules make replacing those who left more complex. Building a more innovative economy – coupled with better training and education – can sustainably improve business performance, wages and living standards. But transformation on this scale requires planning and takes time.

“A refusal to deploy temporary and targeted interventions to enable economic recovery is self-defeating. Using existing levers at the UK’s control – like placing drivers, welders, butchers and bricklayers on the Shortage Occupation List – could make a real difference. The Government promised an immigration system that would focus on the skills we need rather than unrestrained access to overseas labour. Yet here we have obvious and short-term skilled need but a system that can’t seem to respond.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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