Extended visas for international students give much needed boost to construction skills
Home Office proposals to allow international students a two-year work visa after graduating from a British University will provide a much-needed skills boost to the built environment.
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) welcomed the recent Government announcement, overturning a decision made in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May.
Currently, graduates with bachelors or master's degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months. From next year, all international graduates could qualify for a two-year period to work in the UK, increasing their chances of finding long-term employment after studying.
CIC has been lobbying for overseas graduates to be allowed to stay in the UK to complete their professional qualifications. It was also a recommendation in the 2017 report Building on Brexit from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Enivronment, for which CIC provides the secretariat.
CIC Chair, Stephen Hodder said: "Allowing students from disciplines in the built environment to stay in the UK to gain professional qualifications will provide one of the easiest ways of ensuring UK construction firms have access to skills.
"It is a no brainer. Overseas students trained by UK firms bring with them diverse ideas and also, when they return to their home countries, they can help foster work opportunities for UK services," he added.
CIC Chief Executive, Graham Watts remarked: "As the APPG report Building on Brexit made clear, Brexit could have a significant damaging impact on the skills the industry will need, and put the delivery of new homes and a raft of new infrastructure in jeopardy, if access to migrant workers is suddenly withdrawn.
"Whilst this move does not address the issues around skilled site labour, it will help alleviate shortages in many of the professions like engineering and architecture."
The change will apply to international students in the UK – there were around 450,000 last year – who start courses at undergraduate level or above from next year onwards. They must be studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks. Under the proposals, there is no restriction on the kinds of jobs students would have to seek and no cap on numbers.