Freedom of Movement in Construction

Freedom of Movement in Construction

08th August 2017

Here at Safety Fabrications we are well aware of the skill shortage that we have here in the UK and it’s an issue that we’ve brought to the attention of our readers on several occasions.  In the run up to last year’s Referendum on remaining in the EU, we reported that the construction industry in Britain is likely to struggle to fill the skills gap which is currently being shored up by skilled workers from other parts of the European Union.  While the apprenticeship programme has been designed to address the skills shortage, it’s likely to be several years (if ever) before the UK has enough workers with the necessary skills to ensure that the construction industry has all the necessary skilled manpower to complete projects and ensure that Britain remains one of the countries with a modern, fit for purpose infrastructure. 

Last week’s revelation that freedom of movement within the European Union will end in March 2019 has caused dismay throughout the construction industry, particularly with architects who have repeatedly warned about the problems that will arise when restrictions on immigration from and emigration to the European Union come into force.  There have been calls for the government to take on board the views of business when drawing up new immigration arrangements as so many business owners claim that curtailment of freedom of movement across borders will have a detrimental effect in businesses in many sectors, particularly in the construction industry.  Following recent disagreements within the Cabinet over this issue, a spokesman for the Prime Minister confirmed that “Free movement will end in March 2019”.  The government has already published proposals on citizen’s rights and last week the Home Secretary said that there will be a registration system put in place for migrants arriving after March 2019.

So many larger UK based businesses are now operating globally with offices in other European countries and further afield.  Many of the global companies now have to prepare for business after Brexit which is proving difficult right now as many business leaders claim that the UK government appears to be in a state of “total policy chaos”.

Alarmingly, the damage has already been done is so many cases as many Europeans working in the UK have revealed that they feel rejected and unwelcome now.  Several talented people have already decided to leave the UK because they are so disillusioned with the state of affairs.  Members of the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) have identified access to talent as a top priority in the Brexit negotiations, urging that the UK government must recognise the benefits of the UK as an attractive place to work for ambitious architects worldwide.  Here in the UK, the construction industry is also heavily dependent upon skilled construction workers from other European countries in order to ensure that future building projects are not delayed.  It’s hoped that any potential changes to the immigration system don’t drive away international talent nor increase the burden for companies that want to hire talent from overseas.