The construction workforce is slowly declining, is ageing and is facing the substantial challenge of replacing workers as they reach retirement. Recruitment of younger workers has not been sufficient. International migration is a possible source of new labour. Migrants form about an eighth of construction workers in the UK as a whole, but half of those in London.
The changing patterns of international migration are of considerable interest to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) (The Industry Training Board for the construction industry and a partner in ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council) and construction employers in seeking new sources of labour. Between 2017 and 2019, CITB have funded research by the IER in partnership with IFF Research to investigate trends in international migration of construction workers and the motivation of migrant workers. IFF undertook the survey research while the IER was responsible for reviewing the evidence and analysing social survey data on migrants. This has revealed the changing geographical origins of construction workers, with the declining number of EU15 and Polish workers and the rise in the number of Romanian migrants in recent years.
The CITB has used the research to inform their information dissemination to employers and policy makers, as well as in their 2018 Green Paper on Migration in the UK construction industry and built environment sector. The research is being updated with the latest evidence and a further report will be available in 2019.