One in four construction workers in London is from the EU, study reveals

With a quarter of London's construction workers from the European Union (EU), Sadiq Khan has warned that a hard Brexit could "cripple" house building and leave construction sites in the capital "high and dry".

According to his Housing in London report, 95,000 (27 per cent) out of a total of 350,000 construction workers in the capital are from the EU and the mayor of London is concerned that the loss of these skilled workers could have a seriously detrimental effect on projects.

“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," said Khan.

“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.”

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 just how important it is for London to be able to continue to attract the talent it needs post-Brexit.

Cllr Peter John, leader of Southwark Council and member of the London Economic Area Partnership, said: “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.”

Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast Real Estate & Construction Consultancy, said: “It’s very clear that the construction industry is far more reliant on migrant labour than anywhere else in the UK. To safeguard against this, London will require at least short to medium term continued access to EU migrant labour and early protections given to its existing migrant workforce.

“As part of a longer term plan, the construction sector, in partnership with developers and supported by the GLA, needs to come up with a clear strategy for attracting and training more home grown talent and also developing more modern, higher productivity construction techniques which are less labour intensive, helping to future proof the industry.”

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