UK set to encourage overseas construction workers

By Mike Hayes09 March 2023

The UK government is expected to add skilled construction workers to a list of key professions, allowing foreign jobseekers an easier path into the country.

The UK construction market is unable to meet its growth potential, due to an ongoing shortage of skilled workers. Photo: Heidelberg Cement

A report in the Financial Times outlines advice from the migration advisory committee, that professions including brick­lay­ing, roof­ing, car­pentry and plaster­ing should be placed on the “shortage occupation list”.

Under the recommendations, foreign construction workers would potentially be subject to a lower salary threshold of c€23,000, as opposed to the “skilled worker” threshold of c€28,800 and would pay lower visa fees.

The Home Build­ers Fed­er­a­tion said of the situation, “If we are to increase hous­ing sup­ply and deliver the gov­ern­ment’s hous­ing tar­get it is essen­tial we have con­tin­ued access to skilled labour from abroad.”

The recommendations come as the number of working age people in the UK who are neither employed nor seeking employment has risen by approximately 520,000 since February 2022.

Dawn Moore, group people & communications director with the engineering and construction contractor J Murphy & Sons, said the rumoured government plans were “much needed but are not a silver bullet in their own right.”

She added, “What we need from government is a coherent plan that acknowledges the multi-faceted nature of the problem and encompasses everything from educational reforms and a revamped approach to apprenticeships.”

A government spokesperson said, “We work closely with the Migration Advisory Committee to ensure our points based system delivers for the UK and works in the best interests of the economy, by prioritising the skills and talent we need and encouraging long-term investment in the domestic workforce”.

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