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London Mayor Calls for Temporary Visa Scheme for Construction Workers

London Mayor Calls for Temporary Visa Scheme for Construction Workers
17 January 2022
 

Shortages caused by Brexit and COVID-19 must be dealt with by creating a temporary visa scheme for workers in the construction industry, says Sadiq Khan.

In September 2021 the UK-wide vacancy rate in construction rose to its highest recorded level since 2001 and vacancies in construction were 40 per cent higher in summer 2021 than in the three months before the pandemic.

The temporary visa concession would be similar to those instigated in 2021, such as those for EU lorry drivers and UK poultry workers.

 

Coronavirus Recovery Visa

 

The Mayor is proposing that ministers create a Coronavirus Recovery Visa to help sectors that are struggling with shortages of workers, including construction.

The visa should offer at least 12 months to work in the UK and be appropriately tailored to sectors like construction where many workers prefer to work on a self-employed basis.

 

Dependence on Migrant Building Workers

 

Prior to Brexit, the capital was dependent on migrant building workers with more than half the workforce being from the EU and beyond. ONS figures show that the number of construction workers in London from the EU fell 54 per cent between April 2017 and April 2020.

Furthermore, the UK-born construction workforce is ageing, with an estimated 10-20 per cent reaching retirement age in the next five years.

Sadiq Khan said: “Tackling London’s housing crisis has always been one of my top priorities since becoming Mayor. We’ve worked tirelessly over the last five years to get London building again, and the construction sector forms a key part of London’s Covid recovery plan.

‘However, both our recovery and efforts to deliver the genuinely affordable homes Londoners desperately need could now be put at risk if there isn’t the skilled workforce available to build them.   

Geeta Nanda OBE, G15 Chair and Chief Executive of MTVH, said: “G15 housing associations built three-quarters of London’s affordable homes last year and we are working hard to complete even more new homes for Londoners.

“However, the shortage of qualified construction workers is causing delays and is putting pressure on the costs of building much needed new homes.

“A temporary visa scheme would help us to keep building homes for Londoners now. Through our construction activity, we are supporting many people on apprenticeships and other training programmes, and we fully support efforts to encourage more young people to pursue rewarding careers in construction.”

Picture: a photograph of Sadiq Khan, with the London skyline visible behind him. Image Credit: © Greater London Authority

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 17 January 2022

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