The good, the bad and the ugly: How could Brexit affect your construction job?

Rebekah Valero-Lee Career Advice


With the EU referendum taking place on 23rd June, many people are discussing how a possible Brexit could affect their industry and Britain as a whole. The construction sector is one in particular that is expected to be hit big if the country decides to leave the EU, due to the reliance on foreign skilled workers.

Here’s how Brexit could affect a UK construction worker and their prospects.

 1)     Wages could go up

The UK construction industry is heavily reliant on European construction workers. The right for free movement between the EU allows workers abroad to bring their skills and fill the gap that currently exists in the UK for both low and high skilled roles. However, making it difficult for labourers to enter the UK to work may discourage them, and the UK will be in the midst of a skills shortage. This means that it could cause wages for construction workers in the UK to increase. Nearly 12% of the 2.1 million construction workers in 2015 came from overseas.

2)     But, a challenging work day

It will take years for the UK to train workers to fill the skills shortage, and therefore, for those already qualified, their working day could be more challenging. The UK government has vowed to build one million new homes by 2020, which means that if this, like other projects already planned, goes ahead, there will be a strain on construction workers trying to complete projects with limited manpower.

3)     Increase in prospects for qualified labourers

With an expected skills shortage, the UK will have to fill the gap by training workers for both low-skilled and high-skilled jobs. Construction firms will also have to recruit for other positions, and there could be a burst of training, apprenticeships and courses available to meet the demand for work. This means that it could lead to better prospects in construction jobs – those already qualified may be further trained for senior positions in which there is a space.

4)     Uncertainty for small construction firms

Leaving the EU will lead to an increase in cost for businesses, according to Lord Rose from Britain Stronger in Europe. Trading with Europe following a Brexit means having to comply with World Trade Organisation rules for importing materials, which adds expense, and subsequently this will put pressure on smaller building and construction firms.

5)     Increase in cost of working abroad

The pound has suffered a sharp drop since the Major of London pledged his support for Brexit, and if this continues, it will make working abroad more expensive. Currently, there are thousands of labourers working overseas due to the global growth of the construction industry.  With less currency to the pound, you will receive a smaller wage than previously, making living abroad more expensive.

Find out more about the current roles available in construction and infrastructure.

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