Migration Watch UK is wrong to suggest that there is no need for EU workers, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Commenting on the Migration Watch UK paper published today, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Migration Watch’s conclusion that there is no real need for EU workers flies in the face of the experience of key sectors like construction. The sector is undoubtedly facing serious skills shortages, and in certain areas of the country ongoing inflows of EU workers have served to mitigate this and help the industry and economy continue to grow.
“We accept that free movement will end in the years following the UK’s exit from the EU, but the Government needs to be realistic and flexible and take account of the likely ongoing need for key sectors like construction.”
Berry concluded: “The shortage of skilled workers is fast rising up the list of barriers to small and medium-sized (SME) builders in their quest to grow and build more of the homes the UK so desperately needs. Recent research from the FMB shows that over the next three years, as Brexit becomes a reality, half of SME house builders believe the skills shortage will be a barrier to growth than more traditional concerns such as the planning system.
“Over a third of SME house builders currently employ EU workers and this rises to 70% in London and the South East. A third of these employers believe that the end of free movement could be a major barrier to their ability to grow. If the Government gets this wrong, there is a real possibility that skills shortages will further intensify, threatening the delivery of new housing with a knock-on effect on growth across the wider economy.”