A recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed a significant shortage of lorry drivers, bricklayers, carpenters, electrical engineers, and scaffolders in the UK, fueled by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the CBI, these shortages of skilled workers could last for several years and could suffocate the growth of the construction industry.
While the skills shortage has long been an issue in UK’s scaffolding industry, the Covid-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge not only because scaffolders were unable to work but also because the training was on hold for much of 2020.
While the Covid-19 pandemic plays a significant role in the scaffolder shortage in Essex, industry experts believe that Brexit has made the issue even worse.
The Effect of Brexit on Scaffolding
One of the significant concerns that Brexit has on the construction industry, particularly in the scaffolding space, is the issue of retaining high standards in health and safety regulation. The HSE has assured the scaffolding industry that there won’t be any health and safety regulations changes that could negatively affect the workers. But even before they made this statement, scaffolding companies across the UK, particularly in Essex, has declared that even when there is a relaxation of the regulations, they will continue to uphold the health and safety standards.
Another concern that scaffolding companies have when it comes to Brexit is the issue of the timber trade. The UK will no longer be part of the EU’s customs union. The biggest concern here for traders is the VAT and excise procedures that will apply. Aside from these, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an increase in the demand for timber, which has triggered a shortage of timber worldwide and caused a sharp price increase.
Covid Playing a Part
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK has to go on lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. For several months, construction sites have remained closed, which has significantly impacted the scaffolding industry. Even though things are slowly going back to normal now, experts believe that the enormous impact that the pandemic has on the industry will continue for many more months.
When the UK was on lockdown, they halted the scaffolding training courses across the country. As a result, many scaffolders are in limbo while they wait for the opportunity to take part in the vital training that’s necessary to maintain high levels of scaffolding safety. While some construction works are allowed to continue, companies must implement certain restrictions, which presents a challenge in the industry since it can be challenging to ensure that the workers are safe from the risks presented at the construction site. Maintaining a safe distance to keep the virus from spreading can be tricky.
Moving Forward with Apprenticeships
One way to address the issue that Brexit has caused on the scaffolder shortage in Essex is to take on new apprentices, something Get Scaffolding Essex is moving forward. Apprenticeships play a significant role in the government’s effort to transform post-16 education and training to ensure that more people can gain the knowledge and skills needed to get the job that they want across a wide range of sectors, from digital marketing to engineering and construction.