Unless there are drastic changes, the UK is going to leave the European Union in 2019. So with a little over a year left until Brexit begins in earnest, how are jobs in the construction industry likely to be hit?
EU Worker Exodus
Of the overseas workers involved in construction in the South East of the UK, half are from EU countries, according to the Telegraph. And unless their rights are guaranteed by the government in the Brexit deal, they could all pack up and head home.
With so many major projects on the horizon, this will create a vacuum in the jobs market. Coupled with the current skills shortage, there may be an opportunity for British workers with an eagerness to develop a career in manufacturing and distribution to make progress.
The other side to this coin is that construction businesses will be weakened by the EU worker exodus. Figures suggest that up to a quarter of the workforce could be lost in the next decade.
Experts believe this will actually make manufacturing a more important asset, both to the country’s economy as a whole and to the construction industry in particular.
The pre-fabrication of homes at factories in the UK could allow the government to meet its goal of building 300,000 new properties each year. Whether house values will plunge and sales collapse after Brexit is another question entirely.
In a Bank of England report published last year, distribution was cited as one of the industries with a skills shortage. And as EU workers have begun jumping ship ahead of Brexit, this is unlikely to change.
Over the next decade, roughly £50 billion of investment in the UK will be stripped away if British politicians fail to strike a deal with the EU. This finding in a report from Cambridge Econometrics paints a bleak picture of a worst case scenario for the negotiations process.
Of course the inconvenient truth of the matter is that at the moment, no one actually knows how Brexit will impact the construction industry in the UK. The value of the pound is still volatile, the economy is likely to be weaker no matter what deal is struck, and even those in charge of the process of leaving the EU are in the dark about the long term implications. The only certainty is that serious change is coming and construction industry jobs will be impacted.