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Skills Shortages: How Will They Shape the Future of UK Trades?

Rhino Trade Insurance 19 May 2024

Let's chat about something that's been buzzing around the tool threads lately - skills shortages in the UK trades industry. Yep, you heard us right. It's like trying to find a screwdriver when you need one - a bit of a struggle. But fear not, we're diving into what's causing this shortage, which trades are feeling the pinch the most, how we can tackle the issue, and what the future holds for all of you hardworking tradespeople.

The Lowdown on the Skills Shortage Situation

So, what's causing this whole kerfuffle in the first place? Well, there are a few factors at play here, but let's break it down.

  1. Ageing Workforce: 

Think about this – your favourite electrician, Dave, has been fixing wires since before you were born. But now, he's eyeing retirement, and there's no one quite like him to fill his boots. Many skilled tradespeople, like Dave, are reaching retirement age, and there aren't enough fresh-faced apprentices stepping up to take their place.

  1. Lack of Apprenticeships: 

Apprenticeships are the lifeblood of the trade industry. They're where the youth learn the ropes, quite literally whilst also undertaking classroom activity to ensure maximum compliance with the latest industry rules and regulations. But unfortunately, apprenticeship opportunities have been on the decline in recent years due to a lack of funding and opportunities. Without proper training and mentorship, budding tradespeople struggle to gain the skills they need to excel in their chosen field.

  1. Perception Problem: 

Let's face it – being a tradesperson isn't always seen as the most glamorous career choice for the Instagram generation. While we know it's a rewarding and downright essential job, others might not see it that way. There's this misconception that trades are a fallback option rather than a first-choice career path. But thanks to the various Instagram tradespeople out there sharing their everyday lives on the job, they prove there's nothing second-rate about being a skilled tradesperson and how exciting their work is. 

  1. Brexit Blues: 

And not to get all political, but we have to mention Brexit - the gift that keeps on giving. With the UK's departure from the EU, we've seen a drop in the number of skilled tradespeople coming from overseas to work here. With confusing and ever-changing policies, this has only added fuel to the shortage fire, leaving many trade businesses scratching their heads and wondering where all the talent has gone!

Which Trades Are Feeling the Pinch?

Now that we've identified the culprits, let's talk about which trades are feeling the pinch the most. While no one trade is completely immune to the shortage, some professionals in the field are definitely feeling it more than others.

Electricians: With the rise of smart technology and renewable energy, the demand for skilled electricians is currently through the roof - with brand new infrastructure needed to be installed, who will do all the work? Unfortunately, the supply just isn't keeping up. If you're an electrician, chances are you're in extremely high demand right now.

Plumbers: From leaky taps to burst pipes, there's never a shortage of plumbing problems to solve. Similar to their sparky mates, plumbers are seeing newer technologies and policies that are stating certain heating system targets - but what about the workforce? With fewer apprentices entering the field, plumbers are finding themselves spread thin trying to keep up with demand!

Construction Workers: Whether it's building houses or fixing roads, construction workers are the backbone of this country's infrastructure and with the government's continuous announcements of house building, is it any wonder we are seeing builders, bricklayers and general construction professionals being stretched. But with an ageing workforce and fewer newcomers joining the industry, there simply aren't enough hands on deck to get the jobs done.

How Can We Tackle the Issue?

Alright, enough doom and gloom - let's talk solutions! While the skills shortage might seem like an insurmountable problem, there are plenty of things we can do to tackle it head-on, starting with…

Investing in Education: First and foremost, we need to invest in education and training programs at local colleges and training centres. That means more apprenticeships, better access to vocational training, and support for lifelong learning. By equipping tradespeople with the skills they need to succeed, we can ensure a steady supply of talent for years to come.

Change Perceptions: As you can see through our blogs about how great life is for a tradesman or woman, we need to change the narrative around trades and show young people that it's not only a viable career choice but a darn good one, too. Whether it's through outreach to the current crop of tradespeople online, career fairs, or good old-fashioned word of mouth, we need to spread the word that trades are where it's at.

Embrace Diversity: Traditionally, the trades industry has been a bit of a boys' club. But it's high time we embrace diversity in all its forms. By encouraging more women and individuals from diverse backgrounds to join the trades, we can tap into a wider talent pool and bring fresh perspectives to the table.

The Future of UK Trades: Brighter Days Ahead

So, what does the future hold for you hardworking tradespeople? Well, despite the storm clouds looming overhead, there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Embracing Technology: In an age where drones deliver packages and cars drive themselves, it's no surprise that technology is making its mark on the trade industry, too. From 3D printing to virtual reality simulations, new technologies are revolutionising the way you work. By embracing these innovations, you can increase efficiency, improve safety, and attract a new generation of tech-savvy tradespeople.

Job Security: Let's face it - no matter how advanced technology gets, there will always be a need for skilled tradespeople. Whether it's fixing a leaky pipe or wiring up a new smart home, there are some things that robots just can't do (at least not yet). So rest easy knowing that your skills will always be in demand.

A Sense of Pride: There's something deeply satisfying about working with your hands and seeing the fruits of your labour come to life. Whether you're building a house from the ground up or fixing a broken appliance, tradespeople play a vital role in keeping our world running smoothly. And that's something to be proud of.

Always Have Rhino By Your Side

So, there you have it – a glimpse into the world of skills shortages in the UK trades industry. While the road ahead might be a bit bumpy, there's no doubt that brighter days are on the horizon. 

And speaking of tools, when it comes to protecting your business and livelihood, there's one name you can trust - Rhino Trade Insurance. With comprehensive coverage tailored specifically for tradespeople, Rhino Trade Insurance has got your back, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out. So don't wait until disaster strikes - head on over to Rhino Trade Insurance today and get the peace of mind you deserve - 0116 243 7904


About The Author Phil McCormick

Experienced in brand marketing and content. Most of that lovely communication you see online will be from Phil. social media, emails, videos, how to make a bacon sarny? You get the gist!

Trade most identified with: Electrician - It’s our Phil’s job to map out all our communications and make sure the signal works! Also, he’s one of the cockiest blighters in the team so electrician fits perfectly!

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