A third of construction companies expect to provide more jobs for British workers, while nearly three quarters expect Brexit to impact the industry.
That’s according to the latest Migration Survey conducted by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which predicted that the number of migrant workers would fall at the same time that the sector grows by 250,000 workers over the next four years.
The survey found that 41% of employers will look to increase the skills of British workers, while almost a third (30%) will provide more permanent jobs for Brits, a quarter (24%) will increase minimum salaries, and 16% will look to take on more local apprentices.
While only 16% of companies expect that issues with migrant workers not remaining in the UK will impact their firm, almost three-quarters (72%) expect it to impact on the sector, with a quarter (27%) anticipating a serious impact.
Most employers reported no change in their number of migrant workers over the last year, 13% reported a fall in employing them, and only 2% a rise. The largest fall (41%) was among those engaging self-employed non-UK workers. Just over a tenth of the construction workforce are migrants, with the proportion falling from 10.7% in 2018 to 10.2%, with most coming from the EU.
The number of employers dependent on migrant workers has fallen slightly (from 15% in 2019 to 13%). While those directly employing migrants (ie. as staff) fell by 11%, the number of firms indirectly employing migrants rose by the same number.
Steve Radley, director of strategy and policy at CITB, said: “Construction faces a number of challenges over the next few years, among them declining numbers of migrant workers, as Covid has seen more workers leave the country and with a new tighter migration system. Employers expect to provide more jobs for British workers but for some occupations and employers, this is already proving challenging with order books growing, particularly in housing and infrastructure.
“The government has made some important commitments such as reforming further education, introducing construction traineeships and increasing access to unused Apprenticeship Levy funding. It’s vital that we work together to ensure these deliver the skills construction needs. It’s also critical that employers understand the new points-based system and have confidence it will respond quickly where there are pressures on key skills.”