Article 50 triggered – so what happens now?

At the end of last month Article 50 was officially triggered and so began the two-year process of the UK leaving the EU.

In recent days, the Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a UK election will be brought forward by three years to this June, in order to give her the chance to secure her own, more relevant, the mandate for the Conservative government as the process moves on.

And, as she begins to head up measures to hopefully make Brexit as pain-free as possible, the initial fears of many seem to be easing slightly.

Brexit has, without the doubt, brought about considerable worries for the UK economy, with British companies concerned about rising costs, a reduced labor force and that when they trade with Europe in the future, they will have to follow rules that they have no say in.

In the construction industry, many fear that a move away from Europe will affect the flow of workers which are so desperately needed from the continent to fulfill increasing demand (up to 35,000 more workers needed each year to cope).

We’ve seen the pound drop by 17% against the US dollar and 11% against the Euro, which has meant the considerable tightening of belts, not to mention the fears of a slowdown in the housing market and construction industry output. But has the housing market and construction industry been quite so badly affected as first thought and could some good come out of it instead?

Yes, in the two years of uncertainty until we reach eventual Brexit, we may see negative effects on material costs and availability of labor. But, hang on in there, because, by the sounds of it, confidence is coming back after the initial jitters in good old true grit Great British style.

Among construction industry SMEs, many have hailed it as a chance to invest in staff training and recruitment, to fill any gaps that might appear before they happen and grow the company in advance of a period of time when they may well be relied upon even more.

With work volumes on the rise to tackle the housing crises that many cities are facing, it’s these companies which, having felt left in the shadows of the construction giants, can now have their chance to shine.

According to the latest SME Confidence Tracker report from business funder Bibby Financial Services (BFS), positive investments in machinery and recruitment in construction are in the offing, for the next quarter, in advance of what Brexit might bring.

And of course, the delivery of large scale domestic schemes, such as airport hubs and high-speed rail networks still remains a necessity, in order for Britain to remain relevant on the global stage.

There’s also no saying that Brexit will mean the incredibly useful labor force from Europe has to stop being allowed to work here.

If we work on improving our skilled workforce here at home and the movement of current EU workers (who make up 8% of the UK’s construction workforce) is managed sensibly through a flexible visa regime, then there’s no reason why Brexit shouldn’t bring a positive outcome for construction.

And it’s this level of confidence that will enable us here at Rytons to continue to fulfill the recruitment needs of the construction industry, as we carry on in our aim to find the very best skilled professionals to step up to the tasks in hand.