Shortages in tradespeople will cost UK £12 billion a year by 2030, study finds

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.

And 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 £12.1 billion, and £14.5 billion, respectively, according to the research from Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, in partnership with economics consultancy, Cebr.

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

Half of young people (49 percent) said they have never considered a career in the trades – yet, looking back, 42 percent 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 – with only 35 percent of young women saying they had considered a career in the trades, compared to 60 percent of young men.

Currently, just two percent of the UK’s 900,000 tradespeople are women. However, if the number of women tradespeople increased to just one third of the current number of men, it would solve the UK’s projected 2030 tradesperson shortage.

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

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 underrepresented.”

A separate survey of 2,000 adults found that tradesperson shortages are already having an impact across the country, as one in five (19 percent) have had to cancel or postpone a project in the last five years, due to not being able to find a suitable tradesperson.

And over a third (37 percent) feel young people are discouraged – by parents, schools, and the government – from considering a trade career.

Among parents, 61 percent think children are being put off from 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.”

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