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UK relaxes visa rules for foreign builders amid Brexit shortages

Bricklayers and other construction jobs added to list alongside care workers and engineers


The UK’s exit from the EU has worsened labour shortages in construction. Photograph: Peter D Noyce/Alamy
The UK’s exit from the EU has worsened labour shortages in construction. Photograph: Peter D Noyce/Alamy

Bricklayers, plasterers and other construction jobs have been added to the government’s “shortage occupation list”, making it easier for foreign builders to come to Britain amid labour shortages partly caused by Brexit.


The UK government has relaxed visa restrictions for a number of sectors that face severe worker shortages, and has added bricklayers and masons; roofers, roof tilers and slaters; carpenters and joiners; plasterers and other construction workers to the list. Fishing jobs have also been added to the list.



The Home Office said that this would “aid the delivery of key national infrastructure and stimulate growth for related industries”.


Those working in a shortage occupation can be paid 80% of the job’s going rate and still get a skilled worker visa, and benefit from a lower application fee. Applicants need a sponsored job offer from an employer and must meet English language requirements.


The independent migration advisory committee recommended in March that construction workers be added to the shortage occupation list. The list already includes care workers, engineers, web designers and laboratory technicians, along with healthcare roles.


This allows employers to recruit staff from abroad on salaries as low as £14,880 for senior care workers and from £15,120 for lab technicians.


With the move, Rishi Sunak faces a further backlash from Conservative MPs, after making promises to reduce immigration. Conservative governments have promised since 2010 that they would cut net migration.


Overall migration into the UK reached a record of 606,000 last year, up 24% on the previous year, while the backlog of asylum cases is also at an all-time high.


Britain’s construction industry has long battled worker shortages, but Brexit has worsened the gaps as EU citizens can no longer come to work in the UK without visas as before. Many EU workers returned to their home countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Suzannah Nichol, the chief executive of Build UK, said: “It is vital that construction is able to fill vacancies and quickly address shortages around particular roles.


“So we welcome the news that five occupations will be added to the shortage occupations list, which will help the industry continue to deliver the schools, homes, hospitals and infrastructure that we need.”


However, Sir John Hayes, a former minister and ally of the home secretary, Suella Braverman, told the Daily Telegraph that the government should be “training up the British workforce” instead.


source: Guardian News

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