Following repeated calls from leaders within the construction industry, the Home Office has finally announced it is easing visa restrictions for brickies, roofers and chippies from overseas by adding them to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

This list is designed to help sectors where employers are struggling to fill vacancies and the move to include more construction trades has been welcomed by the Construction Leadership Council as a solution to addressing immediate skills shortages in the UK. Find out more in this week’s quick-read blog.

Four occupation classifications added

The move to allow more overseas construction workers into the UK on work visas comes after repeated calls from the industry and a recommendation to the government made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) back in March. As a result, four new construction occupation categories have been formally added to the SOL, meaning people with the skills our sector needs now qualify for UK work permits and so their visa application will be made easier. The four categories are:

  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified

Construction sector responds to the announcement

External Affairs Director at The Chartered Institute of Building, Eddie Tuttle, gave this response to the news:

“We very much welcome this announcement which in our view is long overdue. The addition of these roles to the shortage occupation list is something we have called for through the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and we’re glad the industry’s voice has been heard as the construction sector directly plays a vital role in the UK economy and is an enabler to so many others.

“While we acknowledge our industry needs to work harder to attract workers from here in the UK, there is an immediate skills shortage which must be addressed and without a good supply of skilled workers from abroad, as well as homegrown talent, projects large and small including the likes of schools, hospitals, new homes and key infrastructure simply won’t happen.”

While this government announcement is likely to be widely applauded across the industry, there may be disappointment in some sub-sectors where other trades haven’t yet been included in the easing of visa restrictions. In May, the Construction Leadership Council submitted the case to the Migration Advisory Committee for another nine occupations to be added to the shortage list, including road construction operatives, mobile machine drivers and operatives, steel erectors, welding trades and plasterers. To date, these occupations have not been added but perhaps this is a case of ‘watch this space’.


Feature image: Freepik