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Brexit – How it will affect the construction industry

Posted by: Nicola Batty
Company News

Last month’s Brexit decision has thrown the whole country into a spin; many industries have been left reeling following the British public’s tight decision to split away from the European Union.

The construction industry is set to be one of the hardest industries hit by the fallout of this decision; Europe has long provided grants, workers and easy trading options which are now set to disappear, at least for the short term.

We at Navartis are experts in specialist technical recruitment for the construction industry and these are some of the things we believe will need addressing in the wake of Brexit.


One of the biggest sticking points for ‘Leave’ campaigners during the referendum was that of immigration. While it might be the ire of millions, immigration has brought many hard-working Europeans into Britain and the construction industry has taken advantage of this influx of workers. 12% of the workforce within the construction industry is made up of foreign workers, that’s 2.1m people who, without the EU and immigration wouldn’t be working in Britain.

If the government now decides to leave the European single market, and thus losing the right for European citizens to move freely within the Schengen Area, Britain would slowly see the number of foreign workers decrease over the years.

The CIOB say that the industry will need to find an additional 224,000 workers by 2019 to keep up with demand and reach the same deadlines as are currently targeted. As years roll by the CIOB also suggest there will be a shortage of skills required within the construction industry, meaning wage demands from those who do have the appropriate skills will rise; great for the employees wallet, not so good for the employers trying to afford the staff they need to operate.


The European Union is a great source on financial investment for Britain; in fact the UK is one of the biggest beneficiaries of EU funding. In the last 8 years the UK has received a number of financial grants including €755m for projects in the North West, £24m for Scotland and a similar scheme for Wales.

In the wake of Brexit it’s highly likely that these injections of cash into Britain will become fewer and further between meaning projects are likely to be delayed or flat out cancelled due to a lack of funding. Some optimists however see Brexit as an opportunity to bring in more funding from further afield, mainly America and Asia who are both said to contain businesspeople looking to enter business with UK companies. Start-ups especially look set to suffer.


The freedom of movement within the European Union doesn’t just apply to people; the agreement also extends to free movement of goods, services, labour and capital. This freedom means that much of the heavy lifting regarding importing materials for business is already out of the way.

The UK’s construction industry relies heavily on imports from Europe, a 2010 report estimated that 64% of all materials used by the industry had been imported from Europe, and any affect Brexit has on these imports is going to impact the industry deeply.

In addition to this, the value of the pound fell sharply as the results were announced back in late June, with such a large amount of materials coming from Europe, and thusly using the Euro, every change in the currency rates has a direct effect on the prices British businesses are paying for their materials.

Without doubt Brexit is going to leave a lasting impression on everyone in the country but for those working in the construction industry there will be a bigger impact than most. The fact that 85% of construction executives polled as ‘Remain’ voters highlights the worry those within the field already felt leading up to the referendum; now that it’s come and passed they are left with the need to adapt to the new corporate environment.

Navartis are the leading recruitment firm specialising in technical roles for the construction industry – we work with candidates and employers to find the right position for both parties in a range of specialist project management areas.

If you would like to discuss any construction opportunities, please contact our team today on 01302 556 674.

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