Massive deficit of human resources in trade and construction sector

New research from UK-wide trade supplies merchant City Plumbing reveals that there are over one million advertised jobs in the Trade & Construction sector in UK right now (1.17 million), representing 8% of all open roles. Furthermore, this has increased by 345% in the last year alone highlighting just how much this sector is booming.

The current advertised salary in this sector is £37,939 per year, which is 10.9% higher than the UK average (£34,261). Salaries here have also increased 4.3% year-on-year, with demand increasing competition and this in turn driving up the amount of money that businesses are prepared to pay for skilled tradespeople.

Current average advertised salary per role:

  • Heating Engineer £44,305
  • Carpenter £41,284
  • Window Fitter £40,198
  • Plumber/Pipe Fitter £38,573
  • Tiler £38,377
  • Electrician £37,780
  • Bathroom Fitter £37,158
  • Joiner £36,746
  • Plasterer £35,498
  • Painter Decorator £33,004
  • Floor Layer £32,403
  • Roofer £32,244
  • Tradesperson £30,294
  • Carpet Fitter £30,194
  • Tree Surgeon £28,883
  • Specialist Welder £27,436
  • Landscape Gardener £27,319
  • Builder/Labourer £23,450
  • Locksmith £25,830

Demand in some areas is further increasing salaries for specific roles too – a gardener in Manchester could earn £9k more than the UK average (£34,093 versus £25,047) and it’s the same for a plumber in Warrington (£41,889 versus £32,864).

An apprenticeship is the usual route into this industry, and 7% of all apprenticeships that commenced in England this year were in the construction/planning and build environment sector. However, the number of trade apprentices has declined recently – there were 17,700 starters this year, down from 21,920 in 2020 and 22,530 in 2019.

In a typical year, 85% of new apprentices are aged 25 or under, and experts believe that in order to plug the current skills gap more older adults should be encouraged to re-train in this area. City Plumbing’s ‘School’s Out, Trades In’ report reveals that more than one in nine working adults in the UK (12%) are currently considering it too.

The most popular trades to upskill in are plumbing (11%), building (11%), gardening (8%), electrics (6%), joinery (6%) and painting/decorating (5%).

Oli Street, 35 from Leeds in Yorkshire has been studying for a plumbing diploma and intends to take this on full-time when qualified, moving on from his current job in recruitment.  He said: “Plumbing is something that I’ve done elements of previously and really enjoyed doing – I prefer a role that’s hands on and where I can see a project to completion, so it seemed a natural trade for me to pursue.

“It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years and I’m lucky that my current employer is supportive of my new direction in life.

“In the past couple of years, I’ve completed both my Level One and Two Plumbing Studies Diploma, and I’m currently awaiting the start of an Advanced Diploma Level Three. I’m very lucky that my Level Three has coincided with the National Skills Fund (NSF) which means the course is fully funded by the Government.

“Following this, my plan is to do my NVQ2, which is a vocational qualification, with the overall goal of starting my own company in the not-too-distant future.”

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of job search engine Adzuna, commented: “Demand for skilled tradespeople has gone through the roof since the start of the pandemic. Powered by a surge in demand for home improvements, the last year has seen a sharp increase in advertised job vacancies for trades ranging from plumbers, builders and plasterers, to heating engineers, bathroom fitters, and tree surgeons.

“Factoring in an existing shortage of skilled workers, plus the dip in overseas tradespeople bringing their skills to the UK due to the pandemic, and demand for skilled professionals is at an all-time high.

“For young people starting out and adults considering retraining in this sector, now is a great time to learn this craft with thousands of job openings on offer and advertised salaries pushing up as employers compete for skilled staff.”

A spokesperson for City Plumbing added: “It’s clear from our research that there is a great deal of opportunity for both young adults considering a career in this sector, or anyone thinking about retraining in plumbing, building and so on.

“There certainly look to be some towns and cities across the UK where this is currently a skills shortage, and the CITB recently said that the industry will need more than 200,000 new workers by 2025 to meet demand.

“Here at City Plumbing, our specialist team always looks to offer both new professionals and experienced tradespeople professional advice to assist them with their next project. Our trade account holders also enjoy discounts on products and can use any of our 350 nationwide branches.”

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