What Could Brexit Mean for Your Job?

The UK was set to leave the European Union on October 31st 2019, it’s now been pushed back to the 31st January 2019. If the exit goes ahead as planned, many construction roles could see significant changes.

As a candidate seeking a new role, it’s essential to know how Brexit could affect both the construction industry as a whole and your role specifically.  Many EU nationals have declared that they will leave the UK ahead of the exit, meaning many construction companies will need people to fill the gaps left behind. 

To give you a better understanding of how your job role will be affected by Brexit and the wider industry we’ve revealed the key areas that could make an impact on your role.

Labourer

It’s no secret that the UK construction industry relies on UK and foreign labour. According to the Office of National Statistics, 7% of UK construction labourers are EU nationals. This figure rises in areas such as London, where 28% of labourers are migrants. 

When the UK withdraws from the EU, foreign nationals will have their existing right to work in the UK removed. Instead, to qualify to work in the UK, the government is proposing that migrants must apply for a tier-two visa, and meet specific requirements such as holding a minimum education level. 

If this new policy is put into place, it will create barriers for recruitment within the construction industry as it would prevent unskilled labourers from entering the UK. As a non-UK labourer, this could mean you may be stripped of your job role should you not be able to meet the criteria. 

At present, EU nationals can still live and work in the UK, and any EU nationals currently working in the UK are likely to be granted permission to stay after Brexit.  For UK-born labourers this may provide an opportunity to find more work across the UK and in larger cities. 

Labour roles will be in high-demand if the construction industry is to meet the government’s target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. 

Carpenter 

The skills shortage has been a hot topic in the construction industry, and as skilled labour continues to be a large issue for construction companies, carpenters may see a rise in demand. 

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has already confirmed that wages are rising sharply for skilled tradespeople. In its quarterly report, the FMB found that construction companies are struggling to recruit bricklayers and carpenters. 

If you have carpentry skills and experience, Brexit may become an opportunity to find high-income work.  As the UK government has set high targets for new housing, the capacity for work will exceed demand. 

Quantity Surveyor 

As a quantity surveyor, you may be among a few construction professionals in the building industry worried about your career prospects.  However, since the EU referendum in 2016, the construction sector has overall, proven to be highly resilient. Perhaps more so than many people expected. 

While there is uncertainty around Brexit, the role of quantity surveyor continues to be in demand both in public and private projects. 

In a survey by the RICS, surveyors saw a 14% growth in public projects in 2018, while there was a 20% increase in workload for private projects. Respondents to the survey also believe there will be a rise in construction activity over the remainder of 2019. 

Despite much of the negative press, the role of quantity surveyor will perhaps become all the more needed during times of change. As any good quantity surveyor knows, it’s their ability to reduce uncertainty and manage costs that make their position all the more desirable for construction companies. 

Construction Director 

Just like the nation as a whole, as a construction director, Brexit will bring both challenges and opportunities. 

On the positive, the government has pledged to invest in infrastructure and housing projects across the country, investing a total of £600 billion over the next decade. This will provide a welcome drive to the construction industry. 

As a director seeking a new role, the challenges are not set in stone. Some larger organisations have said they will be moving their operations out of the UK, while other companies have said they will want to invest in weathering the storm.  Future roles for construction directors may be scrutinised, with companies seeking candidates who have vast experience, and the ability to move the company forward. 

The Wider Construction Industry 

In terms of what Brexit may mean for the wider construction industry, again it is all assumptions.  There are fears about the loss of EU labour and the fact that 5% of all construction materials are imported – meaning the cost related to projects could skyrocket. 

The construction industry already has its fair share of issues, with an ageing workforce, a lack of interest from young people, and Brexit.  Uncertainty is rife not only within politics but also in the decisions being made across the construction industry. 

Many have questioned whether much of the data that’s been collected pre-Brexit will actually come to life post-Brexit. For example, according to a survey by The Director, more than a third of the directors plan to cut investment in their business. But only time will truly tell if words become actions. 

As there are still no confirmed plans for post-Brexit, many of our assumptions have to be based on the feeling within the industry and the research that has been carried out so far.

Contact Marshall Recruitment to discuss your Building Services Recruitment needs.