Major new survey findings from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and SELECT show almost half of survey respondents (46%) believe Brexit will have a positive impact on their company in just five years’ time.
Less than one in five (19%) believe it will have a negative impact.
The largest contractors in the survey (with over £20 million turnover) are slightly less optimistic about the short term business prospects than smaller contractors.
The sector puts maintaining access to the EU ‘Single Market’ at the top of its list of Brexit aspirations, closely followed by more control of employment law and the need to negotiate non-EU trade deals.
Despite the general positivity about Brexit, 47% of respondents fear the cost of materials will rise as a result.
Reflecting a general tendency to use skilled UK rather than EU workers, the vast majority (92%) of respondents said they ‘do not rely on EU migrant workers’, and only 25% agree that Brexit would ‘worsen the shortage of qualified workers’.
ECA CEO Steve Bratt said: “No matter how our relationship with Europe develops, our sector has a huge role to play in achieving UK business growth. This includes providing skilled jobs, fully functional buildings and infrastructure, and UK energy security.
“To help us achieve these aims, it’s vital that we know the initial views of our sector as we head towards Brexit. Significantly, contractors are telling us that they want the UK to maintain access to the Single Market, while they are less concerned about ensuring freedom of movement.”
BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin added: “Our survey clearly shows that many contractors are conditionally optimistic in the wake of the Brexit vote.
“In fact, putting these findings alongside the brighter than expected data for the UK economy as a whole gives us a much more upbeat feel than could reasonably have been predicted back in June.
“The survey provides extremely valuable feedback about what matters most to contractors as the UK sets about negotiating a new relationship with Europe. As a result, we will draw up an action plan for the building engineering services sector to focus our lobbying efforts in the coming months.”
SELECT Managing Director Newell McGuiness stated: “The results of the UK wide survey provide a valuable insight into the hopes and needs of contractors and will be very useful as we seek to influence government policy going forward.”