In the wake of growing concerns over immigration in 2021 and the impact of tighter rules on the finishes and interiors sector, trade body FIS, supported by Seddons Law LLP, Indigo Group, Lignum Group and Bamboo Project Solutions hosted a webinar explaining how companies should react.

At the FIS AGM (24th November 2020) it was revealed in data provided by economist Dr Noble Francis that EU workers had since 2018 fallen by 40% to Q3 2020, accelerated by a return home linked to COVID this year.  New data from the FIS indicates that 30% of members are already experiencing labour shortages and 62.5% are concerned for what the New Year brings.  FIS has been raising these concerns with Government and continues to lobby for a more phased approach to the new points based system.

The challenge for the finishes and interiors sector:

  • The Shortage Occupation List: The common issue for all of construction is the lack of recognition on the Skills Shortage list.
  • The Skilled Worker List:  Vital trades across construction are lost in catch-all “other” categories and have been overlooked in the definition of Skilled Worker (e.g. Drylining and Ceiling are included in SOC8149 Construction Workers Not Elsewhere Classified).
  • High Reliance on Flexible Workforce:  Contractors in our sector operate in a project lead, phased trade environment and as a consequence of the nature of work and procurement practices relies heavily on contingent workers, this is not well recognised in the new system.

The webinar now freely available online here outlined how the new points based system will operate and how companies should start preparing for initial changes in January, followed by further tightening in June 2021. The event also warned of new company responsibilities and growing concerns about the potential for abuse of the system through modern slavery.

FIS continues to lobby government on these issues and has a meeting, with colleagues from the wider construction sector and the Home Office on the 4th December.  If you haven’t completed our labour market survey before this point, please do so here.

The FIS has set up a dedicated section on immigration in their Brexit Toolkit here.