The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has called for a review of the occupations eligible for a visa and an immediate update to the shortage occupations list to include specialist piling rig operators and HGV drivers
The CLC has added its voice to other industry representatives including the CBI and the Road Haulage Association calling for a review of the occupations eligible for a visa amid skills shortages.
It warned that the construction industry is feeling the effect of the new Points Based Immigration System and it is not just core construction skills that are impacted.
It said the availability of HGV drivers has been a “growing cause of concern” and is now delaying deliveries and inflating costs across the UK.
Parliament’s transport committee recently heard that the industry faces “a huge challenge of shortages, both in craft and particular skills” and that this shortage will have a greater impact as more major infrastructure programmes get underway.
Employers of all sizes are reporting challenges in employing suitably skilled workers and are calling for the new visa system to accommodate specialist construction workers, according to the CLC.
‘Government needs to intervene’
Construction Leadership Council co-chair Andy Mitchell, said: “We now have a situation where we believe the government needs to intervene.
“Manufacturers, merchants and builders large and small are having products and materials delayed or not delivered, and warn that it is having a knock-on effect on construction schedules and leading to higher build costs.
“Industry can only take this so far, and as Government is also the largest client of construction services, we trust it will listen to the calls from all sectors to enable timely and appropriate reviews of the new immigration system.”
Suzannah Nichol MBE, CEO of Build UK, commented: “We do not have all of the specialist skills we need for the volume of construction projects underway and those in the pipeline across the UK.
“The new immigration system is proving difficult to navigate, is costly and actually prevents many of the people with the skills construction needs from coming here to work.
“By reviewing the eligible skilled occupations and the shortage occupation list we can ease the current pressures, support businesses to grow the economy and keep building faster, better and greener.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, added: “The construction industry cannot be expected to ‘build back better’ when the industry is struggling to access key inputs – be that labour or materials. Small builders are already struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters.
“Shortages of HGV drivers to get goods to merchants are now adding to the troubles they face. Clearly what SME builders are experiencing is part of a larger problem, and we hope the government addresses it with the big picture in mind.
“The Road Haulage Association’s recommendations are sensible, achievable, and work for both the short term and long term.”