Help! We Need A Builder: Britain's Skills Shortage

We are facing a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople - it’s estimated the UK needs nearly a million new recruits in trades and construction over the next decade. At the same time demand is soaring, creating a perfect storm which threatens homeowners, businesses and the national economy. So why are we in this situation and what can be done about it? Michelle Ackerley has been investigating.

Builders, plumbers, joiners and electricians, they all play a vital role in our economy and society - but there’s a problem. Last year, one in five Brits had to cancel or postpone projects on their house due to not being able to find a suitable tradesperson and things don't seem to be improving.

A national shortage of skilled tradespeople is estimated to cost the UK £12bn a year and one third of skilled trades people are over 50 and will likely retire within the next ten years. Nearly half of UK homeowners have struggled to hire a tradesperson for their projects or repairs, with the top reasons cited being “no availability”.

Attracting women to trades professions is another problem - according to the latest ONS data, just 2.1% of people working in skilled construction and building trades were women and yet many homeowners would prefer to hire a female tradesperson to work in their home.

In the here and now if you’re thinking of taking on building work, finding the right trader is vital - and if someone is available immediately and it seems too good to be true, assume it probably is.

Useful Links: 

  • Before choosing a builder always check their reviews to see if they’re reliable and credible on the Check A Trade website 

  • If you think you’ve come in contact with a rogue builder or tradesperson you can get in contact with Citizens Advice or Action Fraud

  • If you’d like to change career or are considering starting an apprenticeship in the construction industry head to the IfATE website 

  • Want to learn more about DIY and try out a new skill? Head to The DIY School and book yourself onto a course