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How Brexit will impact the construction industry

16 Feb 2021

After years of uncertainty and doubt, the UK finally agreed on a deal to leave the European Union on Friday 31st January 2020. Inevitably, the decisions to leave the EU sent shock waves throughout the nation and various industries, including the construction sector. Brexit presents several challenges for the industry. Now the transition period has come to an end, there will be changes that will no doubt affect contractors, how they operate, as well as the access to new labour. Brexit, along with the increasing use of digital technology, has created a shift towards offsite manufacturing. The construction industry has had to grapple many challenges following the referendum, but with Brexit now confirmed, what’s the outlook for the industry? 

Labour shortages

There could be huge ramifications for the construction workforce as a result of Brexit, and we may see a steady decline in numbers. Since the construction sector is heavily reliant on overseas workers, there’s likely to be an administrative hurdle, because many EU nations will have to invest in further VISA structures, which could slow down the recruitment process. The construction sector has been valued at £30 billion, with 28 per cent of London’s workers coming from the EU. So, any labour shortage will have a major impact on the industry. However, shortages in labour pave the way for the opportunity to recruit workers with transferrable skills from other industries, which could boost the numbers in the construction sector much more efficiently than traditional training may allow.

Movement of goods

The Brexit deal has seen the end of the free movement of goods between the UK and the EU. It’s widely understood that the UK imports more construction materials than it exports, which means the lack of free movement is a major barrier for firms. According to research, the UK relied on 50 per cent of its imports in 2019, whereas the EU only accounted for 47 per cent. In the future, there could be significant disruptions for the construction industry when it comes to importing new materials and goods. Firms will need to be ready with paperwork and contracts, meaning there could be long delays, affecting the supply chain. With the progress of goods slowing down, construction firms need to prepare to be more flexible with the timelines of their projects and develop new ways to be more efficient. The restriction of goods will be felt across the entire industry, so businesses must consult with their suppliers to avoid shortages and rising costs.

Regulations and product marking

Meeting a high standard of quality and the relevant regulations has always been a key area for the construction industry. Quality standards are controlled by EU regulations, with the CE mark signifying that the product is safe and ready to be placed on the market. CE marks will be legally allowed in the UK until 1st January 2022, but thereafter, construction firms have to start using the UKCA marking. As a result of the Brexit deal, only products with UKCA marking will be allowed to enter the UK. All of this means is that construction firms need to ensure they understand the changes and apply the new product marking rules in the UK. Businesses can now use the Brexit checker tool for a better understanding on the actions they need to take and what all the new rules mean. However, it’s still largely uncertain how Brexit will impact the construction industry over the long-term, but what’s clear is that contractors must adopt new ways of working to ensure they remain competitive in this challenging market. 

Let PSR Solutions help you find your next construction job

At PSR, we have an outstanding track record of recruiting the best professionals into roles in the construction industry. Since we were founded in 2005, our team of specialist consultants have been delivering high-quality expertise to both clients and candidates. We have strong experience in placing candidates into many top contractors throughout the UK. Our consultants are always up-to-date on the latest trends in the construction industry, and we take pride in providing a great service to our clients. If you’re looking to secure your next role in construction, take a look at our building and construction jobs, and contact us for further information.

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