More than a quarter of London's construction workers are from the EU

Against a background of the growing need for housing in the capital, London mayor Sadiq Khan has released a report highlighting that more than a quarter of London's construction workers are from the EU.

Of the 350,000 people who work in London’s construction sector, 95,000 are from European Union member states. At 27% of the workforce, the report underlines the negative impact that Brexit could have on the construction industry, if there is not a suitable agreement is not reached on ‘freedom of movement’ for current and future workers.

This comes amidst expert estimates that the construction industry will need to increase by 13,000 skilled workers per year until 2021, to account for both the organic skills gap caused by skilled workers leaving the industry, as well as meeingt the new increased construction demands due to London’s exponential growth. 

What had not been factored into this skills estimate is the possibility of EU migrants having increased difficulty coming to work in London, with yesterday's report shedding new light on the possible implications.

Expanding on the findings of the report, Khan said: “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. 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.”

The mayor’s concerns are compounded by other report findings, with the level of concern over housing among Londoners at a record 37%, as the number of homes being built rising by only 15% against the number of people in London growing by 25%.

Undoubtedly with the rising push for housing in London, this report will feed into the mayor’s London housing strategy, which will be published for consultation later this year. It will also likely play a role in the mayor’s commitment for a city-wide approach to fostering skills, a key component of his election manifesto that has become the Skills for Londoners (SfL) taskforce.