Letter: UK building trade wants time to reskill

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You can feel the shame and pain of the Home Office spokesman who had to preach Priti Patel’s doctrine that “Employers should focus on investing in our local workforce. . . instead of relying on workers from abroad ”in your article“ Construction workers sound the alarm about EU work flight ”(report, June 15).

It will be news to the Home Secretary, but the construction industry is not a version of the UK game show The Generation Game, in which, in a hilarious few minutes, the “domestic” contestants mastered a range of skills that the silent and amused professionals prove to be the case it had taken years to acquire.

The UK construction industry already offers extensive apprenticeship programs and it is often a building permit requirement for the developer that new construction projects provide training and employment opportunities for the local population.

But as anyone living the world outside of 2 Marsham Street in London (home of the Home Office) will know, the tedious and physically demanding acquisition of skilled building trades has not previously been a priority for the UK native workforce.

Only this government could announce unprecedented plans for massive new infrastructure and housing projects in the UK while eliminating the availability of skilled and experienced labor for their provision.

What is required is a transition period during which the local workforce, in sufficient numbers, will acquire the skills and experience necessary to practice them efficiently and safely.

However, the transition is not a good look for the government: Better to tear down the building spectacularly with explosives and a lot of big bang than tear it down slowly, inconspicuously, with foresight and planning.

David Wight
Lavelanet, France