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RIBA Warns of a 42% Drop in EU Architects in Two Years

A new report by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is calling for major reforms to the British immigration system.

Titled Powered by People, it describes the steps needed to prevent the immigration system from damaging the architecture sector in the UK.

The report is the result of comprehensive research and interviews with EU architects living in Britain. It warns that the country’s position as an attraction for international talent should not be taken for granted and recommends that the government take certain steps to ensure that the UK can keep attracting the workforce it needs to make the country’s architecture so successful.

RIBA is also calling for the system to be overhauled so that international talent will no longer be deterred from practising in the UK and for more political acknowledgment of the benefits that immigrants have brought to the country.

As the date for Britain’s departure from the EU draws closer, the government has confirmed that there will be no more freedom of movement. Last December it published a long-awaited white paper that detailed the post-Brexit immigration policies. While there are some beneficial improvements, the RIBA stated that there wasn’t enough planning in place to protect a sector that relies on a diverse workforce.

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80% of the non-British architects are from the EU and since 2016, there has been a drop of 40% in new EU professionals registering, which represents a serious talent deficiency. The government is proposing that EU architects use the Tier 2 system to apply, but only 5% of all applications were accepted between November 2017 and last April.

The complexity and cost of the new system will affect small businesses the most. These companies constitute 83% of RIBA Chartered Practices. The RIBA has also expressed concern that Brexit has had a negative impact on how the UK is perceived as a place to live and work.

Alan Vallance, Chief Executive of RIBA, stated that international architects constitute 25% of the British architecture workforce. Without them, the sector’s contributions to the economy (currently £4.8 billion) would be in jeopardy. Numbers aren’t the only concern: the architecture sector benefits from the different experiences, backgrounds, and work styles made available by diversity. The UK government has stated that it wants British companies to expand overseas but the right conditions need to be in place for them to do so.

Mr. Vallance said that without major reform, Britain risks cutting itself off from the rest of the world. In addition to the recommendations in its report, RIBA is calling for politicians to embrace the benefits of migration and its importance to the success of UK businesses and the spaces and places that architects create for local communities.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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