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Use of migrant workers should not stop training in construction – new report

Use of migrant workers should not stop training in construction – new report

The Chartered Institute of Building | Chartered Institute of Building

3 min read Partner content

In a new report on migration and UK construction, the Chartered Institute of Building calls for a greater focus on training rather than reliance on migrant workers to fill the skills gap in the sector.  

Migrant labour plays a vital role in the construction industry but should not be a substitute for training, according to new research.   

The Chartered Institute of Building has today launched a report that reveals the current effect of migration on UK construction and sets out a series of policy options for government and industry to consider.

The research, CIOB Perspectives: An analysis on migration in the construction sector , comes at a time when immigration is prominent in British political discourse.  

Drawing on various sources of data, the CIOB concludes that free movement of labour has always been in the DNA of construction, creating a highly flexible workforce. And with an upturn in construction work, firms will inevitably look to short term fixes overseas to fill skills shortages.

The report also suggests, however, that huge demand for future construction work requires the industry to invest in young people in the UK as the future of their workforce.

Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, Steve Rotheram, worked in the construction industry for many years and says it is imperative that firms “train more people to be in the best position possible to take up the opportunities as the sector expands, and upskill those in the industry to take advantage of new technologies.”

Chief Executive of the CIOB Chris Blythe, says it is “essential that the voice of the construction industry is heard clearly in the migration debate so it can help shape a sensible policy that meets both its needs and those of the wider community.

“Globally, construction has always relied on migration to fill in gaps in the labour market – simply cutting off the supply of migrant workers risks seriously damaging the UK’s economic prospects both at home and abroad.

“But of more importance is the need to address the fact that the industry simply does not train its own people in sufficient numbers. There can be no excuses for construction not to provide more training opportunities for young UK nationals.

“Our report contains a series of sensible recommendations that need to be considered away from the broader issue of whether the UK should be in or out of the European Union.”

The CIOB warns that a perception of having closed borders would greatly weaken the UK’s prospects of expanding its positive balance in construction-related trade.

Without regulatory control, it suggests, the most effective way to reduce migration into construction jobs is to invest heavily in training, mentoring and developing young UK citizens, which will also reduce the burden of youth unemployment.

Having identified an ongoing skills shortage as a concern, the report recommends that firms must find ways to retain older workers, as well as increasing investment in the sector.

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