Coronavirus recovery visa for construction workers: what’s that?

Skills shortages have certainly made life hard for enterprises in construction over the past couple of years. Thanks to the pandemic, and also the impact of Brexit, labour supply has been interrupted and this has had a significant impact on projects across the industry, so much that a new scheme is being designed to make it easier for organisations to get access to the talent that they need to be able to move projects forward at all levels.

A coronavirus recovery visa

The idea of a “coronavirus recovery visa” is something that has been proposed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Construction is one of the sectors hardest hit by the slowdown in the availability of labour and this kind of scheme could help to allow more workers into the country who could make a difference in the talent shortage. In terms of the current issues in construction, the figures speak for themselves – between August and October last year there were 48,000 vacancies in the construction sector. This figure represents the highest for 20 years.

What would the visa entail?

According to the London Mayor, a coronavirus recovery visa should be valid for at least 12 months from the date it is issued. It should also be tailored to the individual sectors that would benefit the most from it.

Why is a coronavirus recovery visa necessary?

Labour shortages have hit businesses in construction hard, as is evidenced by the high number of vacancies in the industry right now. Construction has a big role to play in economic recovery, not just for London but across the entire country. In the Capital, the Mayor used the example of the impact continued labour shortages would have on his plan to build new affordable housing for London. The 52,000 homes that he plans to build over the next decade would be seriously jeopardised if the current labour shortage is not fixed.

A key part of Covid recovery

The emphasis on construction as a big part of Covid recovery for the country extends further than London. Bodies representing house builders and housing association developers have joined the London Mayor in calling for a visa that would help to solve the problem of the lack of talent that can be attributed to Brexit and the pandemic. While there is a strong emphasis on solving the talent shortages in the long term, it is also being widely acknowledged that a scheme like a coronavirus recovery visa would also significantly take the pressure off for now. Housebuilders and developers have supported the idea of a visa that would help to ensure that construction can keep up the momentum – and that projects supporting apprentices and other types of training can continue to prepare the ground for the next generation of talent.

Although labour shortages in the UK construction sector require a long-term solution, the coronavirus recovery visa provides a potentially crucial opportunity to make a big difference to available talent right now.

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