London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned of the negative effects of a “hard” Brexit on recruiting skilled migrant workers, after new figures show that nearly 100,000 of London’s construction workers originate from the EU.
Mr Khan said that a loss of skilled EU workers could have a seriously detrimental effect on home building and other construction projects in London if the government pursues a hard Brexit strategy.
New figures in a report released on Monday by the Mayor of London have revealed the “crippling effect” that Brexit could have on home building in the capital.
The report reveals that more than one-quarter of London’s construction workforce is from the European Union and their future in the UK will be uncertain if the government goes ahead with a hard Brexit. Of those working in London’s construction sector, 95,000 are from the EU.
The London Mayor has set out why he believes the figures underline the enormous contribution that Europeans make to London and says that retaining and having access to a highly skilled workforce is “absolutely essential” to protecting jobs, growth and tax revenues across Britain over the decades ahead.
He added that he was also “hugely concerned” about the impact Brexit could have on the housing industry, with the government refusing to guarantee the status of EU workers currently living in the UK.
The London Mayor’s Housing in London report shows there are 350,000 people who work in London’s construction sector of which just over half are from the UK, 27% are from the EU, 3% from other European countries and 14% from the rest of the world.
Industry experts also suggest that London needs up to an extra 13,000 new workers each year until 2021, in order to plug the skills gap and meet the additional demands on the construction industry – highlighting the importance for London of being able to continue to attract the talent it needs post Brexit.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“When I speak to businesses – both large and small – one of the biggest issues they raise with me is the skills gap. They tell me that maintaining a skilled workforce is absolutely crucial to their future and the future of the whole economy. London is in the grip of a serious housing crisis – and fixing it is going to be a marathon, not a sprint."
“While we are working to train up more Londoners to have the skills to work in construction, you can't escape the fact that a hard Brexit could leave a quarter of the skilled construction workforce in the capital high and dry – which would have a crippling effect on our plans to build the homes Londoners so desperately need.”
Leader of Southwark Council and member of the London Economic Area Partnership, Councillor Peter John, added:
“We urgently need more skilled construction workers in London – the Mayor has asked me to bring together partners from local government, developers, the construction industry and training providers to address this. While the challenges are significant – made even more urgent by the expected impact of Brexit – the leadership provided by the Mayor on this issue will enable us to work together to propose sustainable solutions in order to ensure a world-class construction workforce for London.”
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