UK is facing a record high deficit in skilled tradespeople

Shortages in skilled tradespeople such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians are set to cost the UK £12bn a year in missed economic growth by 2030, according to research.

The UK is currently facing a shortage of 166,000 tradespeople, with vacancy levels for many trades close to record highs.

This shortfall is forecast to rise to 250,000 by 2030 as more homeowners look to improve their property’s energy efficiency by installing measures like insulation, heat pumps and solar panels.

The biggest shortages are set to be among electricians, plumbing and heating installers, and carpenters or joiners.

The East and West Midlands emerged as the regions facing the most significant skilled tradespeople deficits, with both areas forecasted to encounter shortfalls exceeding 35,000.

By 2030, GDP growth in these regions will be reduced by £14.5 billion and £12.1 billion respectively, according to the research from Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, in partnership with economics consultancy Cebr.

Infographic Infographic
Infographic | Kingfisher

Infographic Infographic
Infographic | Kingfisher

The findings come as a separate survey, of 1,000 16 to 25-year-olds, also commissioned by the home improvement company, revealed 56 per cent were never encouraged to consider, or provided information about, a trade career when they were at school.

Half (49 per cent) of young people said they have never considered a career in the trades.

Yet looking back, 42 per cent would have liked more information about trade roles before deciding on their career path.The research also revealed a stark gender divide when it comes to trade careers.

Only 35 per cent of young women said they had considered a career in the trades, compared to 60 per cent of young men.Currently, just two per cent of the UK’s 900,000 tradespeople are women.

And if the number of female tradespeople increased to just one third of the current number of men, it would solve the UK’s projected 2030 tradesperson shortage.

Doubling the number would boost growth by over £800m per year, according to the Kingfisher and Cebr findings.

Necessity of tradespeople in our economy

Thierry Garnier, Kingfisher CEO, said: “Tradespeople play a vital role in our economy and society - from improving and maintaining the nation’s homes to installing energy efficiency measures that cut bills and emissions.

“To maximise the UK’s growth but also to progress towards net zero over the coming decade, it’s vital that business and Government work together to encourage and support more young people to consider trade roles - particularly young women who are seriously under-represented.”

A separate survey of 2,000 adults found that tradesperson shortages are already having an impact across the country.

And one in five (19 per cent) have had to cancel or postpone a project in the last five years due to not being able to find a suitable tradesperson.

But over a third (37 per cent) think young people are discouraged - by parents, schools, and the government - from considering a trade career.

Among parents, 61 per cent think children are being put off trade careers by a focus from schools on academic rather than vocational career paths.

Thierry Garnier added: “Trade careers are high-quality, skilled jobs, with significant earnings potential, and they should be valued just as highly as career options which require a university degree.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.