ConstructionSkills rebuffs claims that UK labour force is too small to meet Olympic demands

A leading construction training body has rebuffed suggestions from the government’s migration policy adviser that the UK’s construction labour force would fail to meet demand for the 2012 Olympics.

Metcalf, head of the Migration Advisory Council (MAC), told a committee of Peers earlier this week that UK firms might not be able to train enough local workers in time for 2012, leading to labour shortages. He suggested that a rethink of the current ban on non-EU unskilled workers was needed.

A spokesman for sector skills agency ConstructionSkills said: “87,600 new recruits are required to enter the industry each year for at least the next five years, and we are meeting this demand.”

He told Personnel Today that Olympic construction would not only rely on new recruits starting training between now and 2012.

“There is a significant existing local workforce, as well as a wider workforce located around the country, and the construction industry has always seen labour move to where the work is happening,” he said. “A proportion of migrant workers will be a valuable resource in this period of high demand.”

But Metcalf said: “If you talk about the Olympics having to be on-stream by 2012, and therefore the facilities having to be built by 2011, a modern apprenticeship takes three years.

“It isn’t automatic you are going to get the skilled labour coming on stream in time to build the facilities,” he said.

The MAC is expected to publish a list of official shortage occupations later in the year, as part of the government’s new points-based migration system.

A Border and Immigration Agency spokesperson said: “The MAC has not been asked to look into whether low-skilled workers should be recruited from outside the EU, and there are no plans to do so.”

The agency confirmed its intention to phase out low-skilled migration from outside the EU under the points-based system.


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