The committee has decided not to make construction a special case when it comes to relaxing rules to keep up a steady stream of lower-skilled workers.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders said: “The report explicitly recommends that there should be no migration route for lower skilled workers with a possible exception for seasonal agricultural workers.
“There is also a vague suggestion that if there was a route for lower skilled workers, it should be aimed at younger people and not be open to workers of all ages.
“This is far too restrictive and simply won’t meet the needs of the construction industry.
“Given the important role migrant workers have played, and the already high levels of employment in the UK workforce, it is crucial that the post-Brexit immigration system allows us to continue to hire workers of varying skill levels, regardless of where they are from.”
Construction has lobbied the government for a visa system based on key occupations rather than arbitrary skill levels.
CECA Director of External Affairs, Marie-Claude Hemming said: “CECA is concerned that if adopted by Government, the MAC’s recommendations have the potential to slow down the development of infrastructure across the UK.”
But industry reform champion Mark Farmer, chief executive of Cast, believes the government is using the immigration issue to encourage industry modernisation.
He said: “It is interesting that seasonal agricultural workers have been called out as a possible exception in this report but not construction.
“This clearly says to me that the government is effectively forcing construction to develop a higher productivity model and modernise, breaking free of its archaic labour intensive techniques.
“The biggest risk facing construction is that despite this muscular approach starting to force the issue of reducing its labour dependency, the industry will not be able to adapt quickly enough and will face a real squeeze on near and mid-term projects, which may even call into question the deliverability of some of the government’s housing and infrastructure plans.”
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