Brexit triggers project skills fear

Uncertainty over the status of EU workers in the UK following the Brexit vote is likely to lead to delays in major infrastructure projects such as High Speed 2, warns a new report.

Published on Monday, ‘Engineering a future outside the EU: securing the best outcomes for the UK’ calls on Government and the engineering community to work together to take decisive action to tackle the skills crisis.

The report is published by the Royal Academy of Engineering through the Engineering the Future policy group of nearly 40 professional institutions including CIHT.

Among the recommendations of the report are the development of a shortage occupation list for engineering positions that cannot be filled with domestic workers in the short term. The report also calls for temporary visas for skilled engineers from EU countries who possess specialist skills that the UK lacks. 

CIHT chief executive Sue Percy said: “The skills shortage issue is a serious one that has the potential to undermine the industry's ability to deliver the key infrastructure projects that are under way or in the pipeline, as well as the on going maintenance work required to keep our transport infrastructure fit for purpose.”

Royal Academy of Engineering president Professor Dame Ann Dowling added: “Plans to trigger Article 50 raise questions about our ability to train enough skilled engineers to meet the country's needs and to attract the brightest and best international talent to the UK to address specific skills shortages.”

The report also hails the Government’s renewed focus on industrial strategy, but warns that losing access to EU research and innovation funding programmes would pose a considerable risk to gross domestic product in the UK.