UK construction workers oppose Brexit, study finds

There is "widespread opposition" to Brexit among UK construction workers, with more than 80% believing it will damage the industry and prevent high-profile government infrastructure projects from being delivered, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Birmingham City University have been examining the views of people working in the sector to see how they believe jobs, projects and industry will be impacted by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The results revealed that 88% of workers believed the UK relied upon EU skilled labour and that 82% thought exiting the EU would lead to the collapse of many government infrastructure projects.

The findings also showed that 86% of workers expected to see a rise in demand for skilled workers following Brexit, while 92% thought freedom of movement was beneficial to the UK’s construction industry.

More than 50 businesses gave feedback for the research project with one respondent saying: "I believe that this (Brexit) will lead to an intensification of the current skills crisis and could well lead to increases in labour and project costs."

The study was led by Marwan Mohamed a recent Built Environment graduate from Birmingham City University alongside Erika Pärn, Lecturer in Architectural Technology at Birmingham City University.

It has been published in the peer-reviewed research journal, International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation.

Marwan Mohamed said the research showed "widespread industry opposition to Brexit", and that "many within the sector believe Brexit will reduce the supply of skilled labour from the EU rather than increase or enhance it".

The paper recommends retaining free movement by remaining in the European Economic Area, and making the industry more attractive to native workers through better pay, apprenticeships, and the use of labour-saving technology.

Photograph: A Cementation Skanska worker at a UK site (Skanska)

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  1. Brexit is a fact & we will be leaving the EU in March 2019, so get used to it & stop moaning about it, the industry has to re-organise itself & plan ahead for the ‘new dawn’!

    Government projects will not stop, we will still need to build mass infrastructure into the future, labour will still be available from overseas, companies may just have to advertise for it or go & get it. Also, it’s no use moaning about a lack of skilled labour, as it’s the industry’s fault that we don’t have home grown tradespeople, through decades of a lack of training & apprenticeships! A recent survey said that most in the industry wanted to leave anyway as it was too stressful! So in the future, projects may be delayed through lack of not only skilled workers but also management staff! But let’s be honest, we’ve had enough of ‘experts’ predicting the future. Let us all put our shoulders to the wheel & just believe in Great Britain!

  2. Only because we rely on 50 % or more EU workers ! I work in the industry and we need more home grown engineers through apprenticeships etc

  3. So workers vote against a skill shortage that improves wages !
    How many in the survey ?
    What it will do is force UK firms to train, invest and look globally.
    It should stop the waste that is the OJUE procedures.
    It will allow specifications to be precise.
    It will improve health & safety as we will not have foreigners who think they understand English but actually do not.
    This was a can do industry so why now is a little matter of politics causing such a flap. Just get on with building whatever comes our way.

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