Foreign worker policy could force slowdown in Shropshire’s construction industr

Government plans aimed at limiting the number of foreign workers employed in the UK could place Shropshire’s construction industry in jeopardy, an industry organisation has claimed.

Shropshire Constructing Excellence says proposals by Home Secretary Amber Rudd for companies to declare the number of foreign nationals they employ in a bid to reduce the number of migrant workers would have a major impact on the county’s building sites.

Gareth Emberton, Chairman of the network organisation for construction and supply chain businesses, said the Government must be realistic about the significant numbers of foreign workers required by construction employers in order to meet housing demand.

“The proposals announced by Amber Rudd at the Conservative conference are worrying to say the least. Her message was that British people should be filling those jobs,” he said.

“But there is already a huge skills gap which exists in the UK in the construction sector and we need to find practical ways of tackling that issue. To then potentially reduce the number of migrant workers in the sector by deterring businesses from employing them could have a serious knock on effect to our industry and impact on the rate of building and development in Shropshire.”

The Government’s initial comment in a consultation paper produced in a drive to reduce net migration and encourage businesses to hire British staff caused an outcry from business leaders.

It has now said data on foreign workers would be used to inform policy rather than to name and shame companies.

But Mr Emberton said with the impending exit from the European Union, there was still cause for concern in the industry.

“The Government has nailed its colours to the mast with its attitude towards migrant workers and, with the planned Brexit in two years, the construction industry could have a massive shortfall in available labour.

“More needs to be done by those in power to address this as soon as possible or it will have a huge impact on future development and economic stability.”