Britain needs to build, rebuild and renovate many thousands of homes and workplaces, and also to radically overhaul infrastructure. But a crisis is looming because large numbers of British builders are nearing retirement and not being replaced, leaving Britain desperately dependent on EU labour.
Although 90 per cent of workers in the construction industry are British, builders from overseas, and particularly the EU, make up a growing proportion of the workforce, particularly at the younger end. Almost half of British nationals in the industry are aged 45 or over, whereas 50 per cent of those from overseas are aged 35 or under.
The situation will be particularly acute in London. The Office for National Statistics found 28 per cent of construction workers in the capital come from the EU, while 7 per cent are non-EU nationals. Just two-thirds of the construction workers in London are British.
If these trends are not tackled, Britain will be left with an ageing set of workers and few replacements at a time when we have so many construction needs before and after Brexit.
A crisis can still be averted. But it will call for something quite rare, something very strange to recent capitalism. It will call for concerted planning as well as many-pronged interventions by government, the civil service, construction companies, schools and colleges to ensure youngsters are encouraged into high-quality apprenticeships, courses and training in order to provide the next generation of vital skilled builders that Brexit Britain will require in the future.
Things must happen. Inactivity and disdain are not acceptable. Our country and its economy have to be nurtured by positive actions.