Sector - Consultancy

RIBA calls for immigration reform post-Brexit

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called for ‘drastic reform’ of the UK immigration system amid fresh concerns over access to architectural talent post-Brexit.

In a newly published report, entitled ‘Powered by People: Building a Post-Brexit Immigration System for UK Architecture‘, RIBA argues that the UK is in desperate need of an immigration system that ‘supports rather than damages’ the country’s architectural sector – itself worth £4.8 billion to the UK economy.

Around 80% of international architects originate from within the European Union (EU). But with a 42% lull in EU architect registrations since 2016 – the year of the referendum – RIBA says the architectural sector may well face its own skills shortage if nothing is done. Consequently, RIBA has offered up 18 recommendations to ensure the country can attract the young, dynamic workforce that has helped make UK architecture so successful.

As things stand, EU architects will have to apply via the Tier 2 system – a process RIBA describes as ‘unfit for purpose’. Only 5% of applications were accepted between November 2017 and April 2018. The cost and complexity of the system also hits small businesses – which account for 83% of RIBA Chartered Practices – hardest. There are concerns too that Brexit may negatively impact perceptions of the UK as a place where people want to live, work and do business.

“International architects make up 1 in 4 of the UK architecture workforce, and without them the £4.8 billion contribution the sector makes to the economy would be in jeopardy,” said RIBA Chief Executive Alan Vallance. “It is not simply about numbers though – our sector thrives on diversity, benefitting from different ways of working, backgrounds and experience. The government has made it clear it wants UK businesses to expand overseas but ministers must provide the conditions to allow them to do so.”

Vallance added: “Without drastic reform, the UK risks turning inwards and cutting itself off from the world. In addition to the recommendations laid out in our report, we are calling on politicians to be open about the benefits of migration to our society – it is vital to the success of not just our businesses, but the places and spaces that architects create for our communities.”

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