Construction Industry Council chair lobbies government to lift visa restrictions on white-collar construction professionals

state of play architects

The chair of the Construction Industry Council is lobbying ministers to lift visa restrictions on white collar construction professionals in a bid to stave off a skills crisis in the industry.

Speaking to Building this week, Jack Pringle, chair of industry umbrella group the Construction Industry Council (CIC), said the government should make it easier for a raft of construction professionals to work in the UK, including architects, quantity surveyors and engineers.

He said the industry was set to go “from famine to feast very quickly” and that could prove a problem because a lot of skilled staff “have been washed out of all parts of the industry” due to job losses since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

Pringle said “architects, quantity surveyors and engineers” should be included on the government’s Shortage Occupation List, a list of professions in which the UK does not have enough domestic or European workers to meet demand, in order to make it easier for firms to hire foreign professionals.

He said the industry’s “skills shortage” was set to become a “critical issue” as economic recovery took hold.

Pringle said: “Coming out of a recession can be more dangerous than going in for some people and we would not want to make the recovery stall - there’s a lot of demand. It’s something we have put to government.”

The CIC represents a host of leading professional bodies, including the RIBA, the CIOB, CIBSE, and RICS.

The move comes despite hundreds of UK architects still being without a job. According to the government’s statistics 460 UK architects were claiming unemployment benefit in December 2013, although the number has fallen 39% from 755 in December 2012.

Having a profession on the Shortage Occupation List allows firms to hire foreign professionals without having to first advertise posts in the UK and Europe and also automatically gives migrants from those professions 30 points towards their required 50 points total under the UK’s visa points system.

A Home Office spokesperson said the independent Migration Advisory Committee reviews the shortage occupation list every two years and “any requests to amend it would need to be assessed by the committee”.

“We intend to commission the MAC to review the list again later this year,” she added.