Government warned that HS2 could lose foreign workers after Brexit unless skills shortage is addressed as part of industrial strategy.
Balfour Beatty have said that HS2 is at risk of losing foreign workers after Brexit, unless the government include the shortage of skilled workers in its industrial strategy.
The publication of Balfour Beatty’s newest briefing paper said that 2.2 million EU nationals working in the UK have provided the skilled workforce that the UK would not be able to source alone.
It argued that uncertainty about free movement of labour could cause recruitment and staffing difficulties, lead to increased costs where demand for labour outstrips supply, and risk causing delays – especially on HS2 and the nuclear new build programme.
Balfour Beatty and the National Audit Office had already warned that HS2 could suffer from a skills and funding shortage following Brexit.
The report states: “A plan to both retain the skills of those who have migrated here and to ensure that the UK remains an attractive place for talented people to move to should be a key element of Government’s industrial strategy.
“Given the number of major infrastructure projects in the pipeline, uncertainty around the free movement of labour could cause the industry recruitment and staffing difficulties and may increase costs where demand for labour outstrips supply and the subsequent risk of project delays.
“This will be particularly relevant for mega projects such as High Speed 2 and the nuclear new build programme.”
Theresa May and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have insisted HS2 will still go ahead.
Balfour Beatty wants to see a full clarification of what will happen to EU construction workers, as it is understood that the Cabinet is considering plans to try and limit migration as part of the UK’s exit from the EU. They suggest that May’s government industrial strategy should include an “early and integrated” policy to retain the skills of workers who have migrated to Britain and continue to make the country an attractive place for overseas workers.
A Cabinet Committee on Industrial Strategy has already been formed, and Balfour Beatty said a multi-departmental strategy would be needed, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy working closely with the Departments for International Trade and Exiting the European Union.
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