U.S. Markets close in 3 hrs 30 mins

Labour considers visa scheme to force developers to train British workers

Lizzy Buchan

Housing developers would be forced to train a British worker for every foreign employee hired, under plans being considered by Labour.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the party was mulling new rules to ramp up pressure on wealthy housebuilders to pour cash into bolstering the UK workforce.

It comes amid growing pressure on housebuilders over soaring profits, with the firm Persimmon reporting record-breaking profits of £1bn last year, while benefiting from the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

Brexit pressures could also hit the industry as one in six workers come from the EU, rising to one in two in London.

Mr Healey said Labour would develop a “win-win” scheme, requiring developers to train up a British worker for every overseas worker hired.

In exchange, the construction industry would benefit from a quicker visa process for hiring foreign labour after Brexit under the proposals.

Industry leaders have warned of a severe skills shortage in construction, with Build UK saying projects were being held back by lack of experienced workers.

Department for Education research shows two in every five construction vacancies were hard to fill as applicants lack skills and experience.

Mr Healey, who served as a minister under Gordon Brown, told The Independent: “To build the homes the country needs, it’s vital that the housebuilding industry invests to train the next generation of construction workers.

“Government ministers must take a lead in kick-starting industry investment in better training and good jobs.”

The industry relies on EU labour for a chunk of their workforce, with the latest survey from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) saying 17.7 per cent of the workforce comes from the bloc, with 2 per cent from other countries.

More than half of the workforce in London (56.3 per cent) hails from overseas, with just under 50 per cent of those from EU countries.