Fifth of large consultancy and engineering firms threatening to move jobs out of UK

Two construction workers with back to camera

Source: Shutterstock / Mavich Stock Man

Brexit is casting a shadow over the UK construction industry, with more than a fifth of firms considering moving jobs overseas if the future of EU-citizen staff isn’t resolved satisfactory manner.

This is according to a survey by the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), which revealed 22% of large consultancy and engineering firms have threatened to move jobs out of the UK if Brexit makes it more difficult to move staff around Europe.

The ACE said the consultancy and engineering sector is set to be hit hard if access to the European single market is not maintained after the UK leaves the EU.

“Continued unfettered access to EU skilled nationals is vital to consultancy and engineering firms, many of whom will be designing and engineering some of the UK’s major infrastructure projects like HS2, Hinkley Point C and Heathrow Airport’s third runway,” the ACE said.

The ACE said the government had been made aware that the UK construction industry as a whole could lose more than 175,000 EU workers – or 8% of the sector’s workforce – if the country fails to retain access to the European single market after Brexit.

“As serious as these figures are, they do not show the true magnitude of the impact on the industry as each sector is affected differently,” it added.

ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said his organisation’s research painted “a worrying picture”.

“It is essential that we make ministers aware of the numbers of EU nationals working in consultancy and engineering firms so that we can better inform government policy making and highlight the difficulties the sector will encounter in recruitment and retention in a post-Brexit world.”

On average 10% of consultancy and engineering firms’ staff are from EU member states, which is higher than the construction industry average of 6%, while 67% of EU staff work in London and the south east, again higher than the industry average.