Rising Demand for Skilled Trades Leading to a Rewarding Career - Viva Training Centre

The increasing difficulty in securing skilled tradespeople has become a common issue for many homeowners across the UK. This problem is not just an inconvenience; it’s a symptom of a much larger issue affecting the entire nation.

The UK is experiencing a significant shortage of skilled tradespeople, a crisis that has been building over recent years. This shortage has led to a boom in DIY home improvements as more and more people take matters into their own hands to get things done quickly and cost-effectively. With four in five tradespeople booked up well in advance and two in three people finding it increasingly challenging to hire trade professionals for home projects, the DIY trend has taken off in a big way.


The Current Skilled Trades Shortage

The UK is grappling with a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, which has reached a critical point impacting homeowners, businesses, and the broader economy.

The numbers paint a stark picture of the skilled trades gap:

Nearly a Million New Recruits Needed:
Over the next decade, the UK needs approximately 940,000 new recruits in trades and construction to meet demand and prevent the skills gap from widening further.

Aging Workforce:
One-third of current tradespeople are over 50 years old and are expected to retire within the next decade, exacerbating the shortage.

This significant shortfall creates a “perfect storm” where the demand for tradespeople far exceeds the available supply, leading to delays and cancellations of home improvement projects.

Brexit has further complicated the skilled trade landscape in the UK. Changes in immigration policies have made it more challenging for foreign tradespeople to work in the country, reducing the pool of available talent. Before Brexit, many tradespeople from the EU filled crucial roles in the UK. Now, stricter immigration rules mean fewer skilled workers are entering the country, putting additional strain on the already limited domestic workforce.

Another contributing factor to the trade shortage is the declining number of young people entering the industry. A strong cultural push towards university education has led many young people to pursue academic degrees instead of vocational training and apprenticeships, creating a gap in the pipeline of new talent entering the trades.

Preference for University Degrees:
Many young individuals and their families view university education as a more prestigious and promising path, leading to a significant decline in the number of apprenticeships and vocational courses taken by school leavers.

Lack of Promotion:
There is also a noticeable lack of promotion and awareness about the opportunities and benefits of trade careers within the education system, further discouraging young people from considering these paths.

The combined impact of an ageing workforce, reduced immigration, and declining youth engagement in trades has created a significant challenge for the UK’s economy and infrastructure.


The DIY Boom

As the shortage of skilled tradespeople continues to pose challenges for homeowners, a noticeable shift towards DIY home improvements has emerged. This trend is reshaping the home maintenance and renovation landscape, driven by necessity and inspiration.

The inability to secure tradespeople has pushed many homeowners to roll up their sleeves and tackle projects themselves.

High Demand for Tradespeople:
Four in five tradespeople are booked well in advance, leaving homeowners with few options when urgent repairs or renovations are needed.

Difficulty in Hiring:
Two in three people report finding hiring tradespeople for their home improvement projects increasingly challenging, often leading to delays or cancellations.

Many individuals face these obstacles and take on DIY projects to ensure their homes remain functional and aesthetically pleasing. This shift towards DIY is not just a practical solution but has also become popular for those looking to save money and time.

A significant driver of the DIY boom is the influence of social media, particularly among Gen Z women. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are filled with tutorials and inspirational content that demystify complex DIY tasks and make them accessible to a broader audience.

Empowerment through Social Media:
A staggering 82% of Gen Z women say they are inspired by other women performing complex DIY tasks on social media. This visibility and relatability empower younger generations to take on projects they might have previously thought were beyond their capabilities.

Skill Acquisition:
Social media influencers and content creators provide step-by-step guides and tips, helping viewers acquire new skills and gain confidence in their abilities. This has led to a significant increase in DIY participation, with many young women now engaging in traditionally male-dominated tasks.

The impact of social media extends beyond mere inspiration; it creates a community where individuals can share their successes and learn from each other’s experiences. This collaborative environment further fuels the DIY movement, encouraging more people to undertake home improvement projects independently.


Career Opportunities in Skilled Trades

With the current shortage of skilled tradespeople, the demand for these professionals has never been higher. This shortage impacts homeowners and businesses and opens up significant career opportunities for those willing to enter the field.

The high demand for various trades creates numerous opportunities for individuals seeking stable and rewarding careers. Essential trades such as builders, plumbers, joiners, and electricians are all experiencing a surge in demand.

The construction industry is booming, with numerous residential and commercial projects. This demand ensures consistent work for builders.

Plumbers are indispensable workers who maintain water systems and ensure safe plumbing. The need for their services remains high across both residential and commercial properties.

Skilled joiners are needed for various projects, including custom furniture, cabinetry, and structural components. Their expertise is crucial in both new constructions and renovations.

With the growing emphasis on sustainable energy and smart home technologies, electricians are more in demand than ever. Their skills are vital for installing, maintaining, and upgrading electrical systems.

The skills shortage is a significant economic concern, estimated to cost the UK £12bn annually. This gap highlights the urgent need for recruits and underscores the value of skilled tradespeople in maintaining the country’s infrastructure and economy.

One of the most attractive aspects of a career in skilled trades is the job security it offers. Unlike many other sectors, skilled trades are considered recession-resistant due to the constant need for maintenance, repairs, and construction work.

Recession-Resistant Careers:
Even during economic downturns, the demand for skilled tradespeople remains steady. Homes and businesses always require maintenance and repairs, ensuring a continuous need for these professionals.

Job Security:
The persistent skills shortage means that tradespeople are less likely to face unemployment. Their expertise is consistently in demand, providing a stable career path.

In addition to job security, tradespeople often enjoy competitive wages and opportunities for career progression. As the shortage of skilled workers continues, employers are increasingly willing to offer attractive compensation packages to attract and retain talent.

Competitive Wages:
Due to their specialised knowledge and the critical nature of their work, skilled tradespeople can command high wages. This financial stability is a significant draw for many entering the field.

Career Progression:
Many trades offer clear pathways for career advancement. Experienced tradespeople can move into supervisory or management roles, start businesses, or specialise in niche areas to increase their earning potential.


Pathways to Entering Skilled Trades

Entering the skilled trades offers a fulfilling and stable career path, and various pathways exist to gain the necessary skills and qualifications. From comprehensive apprenticeships to specialised training programs, aspiring tradespeople have multiple options to begin their journey.

Apprenticeships and training programs provide hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge essential for mastering a trade. These programs are designed to prepare individuals for the demands of the industry, combining classroom learning with practical application.

New Entrants Gas Course:
This 26-week program is tailored for individuals looking to become Gas Safe registered. The course combines classroom instruction with practical training, covering essential topics such as gas legislation, safety procedures, and practical skills in pipework and gas appliance functions. Participants also complete a portfolio of live installations, ensuring they gain real-world experience under the supervision of experienced professionals.

Air Source Heat Pump Training Course:
This three-day course allows qualified heating and plumbing engineers to specialise in a high-demand industry area. The course covers planning, installing, commissioning, and maintaining air source heat pump systems. It equips learners with the knowledge and practical skills required to enter the renewable energy sector, which is expected to grow significantly as the UK focuses on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

These programs are structured to ensure that participants understand the theory and gain the confidence and competence to apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios.

The field of skilled trades is continually evolving, driven by technological advancements and the introduction of new materials and techniques. Continuous learning is crucial for tradespeople to stay current and competitive in the industry.

Technological Advancements:
New technologies like smart home systems and sustainable energy solutions are transforming the trade landscape. Electricians, for example, must stay updated on the latest electric car charging points and smart grid technology developments. Similarly, plumbers and heating engineers must adapt to new energy-efficient systems and environmentally friendly materials.

New Materials and Techniques:
Introducing innovative materials and construction methods requires tradespeople to update their skills continually. For instance, advancements in composite materials and prefabrication techniques are changing how buildings are constructed and maintained.

Ongoing Education:
Professional organisations and training centres offer continuous education programs, workshops, and certifications. These opportunities allow tradespeople to specialise, enhance their skills, and keep pace with industry changes. For example, courses on energy efficiency, advanced carpentry techniques, or the latest plumbing innovations ensure that tradespeople remain at the forefront of their profession.


Overcoming Barriers to Entry

While the demand for skilled tradespeople is high, several barriers hinder entry into these professions. Addressing these challenges ensures a steady influx of new talent into the trades. Key strategies include promoting vocational education, supporting apprenticeship programs, and encouraging diversity within the industry.

Promoting vocational education is essential for bridging the skills gap in the trades. Many young people are unaware of the opportunities and benefits a trade career can offer.

Awareness Campaigns:
Schools and educational institutions should launch awareness campaigns highlighting the advantages of vocational training and the career prospects in the trades. By showcasing success stories and the economic stability that trade careers can provide, more students may be encouraged to consider this path.

Integration into Curriculum:
Integrating vocational training programs into school curriculums can expose students to trades early on, allowing them to develop practical skills and an interest in these fields. Hands-on workshops, internships, and field trips to construction sites or workshops can provide valuable exposure.

Apprenticeships are vital to trades education, as providing hands-on experience and mentorship are crucial for skill development. Supporting and expanding these programs can help bridge the current skills gap.

Government and Industry Support:
Governments and industry leaders must invest in apprenticeship programs, providing funding and resources to ensure their success. Incentives such as tax breaks for companies that offer apprenticeships and subsidies for apprentices can make these programs more attractive.

Partnerships with Businesses:
Establishing partnerships between educational institutions and businesses can create more apprenticeship opportunities. These partnerships ensure that the training provided aligns with industry needs and standards, preparing apprentices for the job market demands.

Increasing trade diversity is essential for expanding the talent pool and ensuring the industry benefits from various perspectives and skills. Currently, only 2.1% of skilled tradespeople are women, highlighting a significant area for improvement.

Targeted Recruitment Campaigns:
Recruitment campaigns should target underrepresented groups, including women and young people. Highlighting successful female tradespeople and creating role models can inspire more women to enter the field.

Inclusive Training Environments:
Training programs and workplaces must foster inclusive environments where everyone feels welcome and supported. This can be achieved through staff diversity training and implementing policies promoting equality.

Mentorship Programs:
Establishing mentorship programs that pair experienced tradespeople with newcomers, particularly those from underrepresented groups, can provide valuable support and encouragement. Mentors can offer guidance, share their experiences, and help mentees navigate the challenges of their new careers.

Overcoming barriers to entry in the skilled trades requires a multifaceted approach. Promoting vocational education, supporting apprenticeship programs, and encouraging diversity are critical to ensure a steady flow of new talent into the industry. By addressing these challenges, the trades can become a more attractive and accessible career option for diverse individuals, helping to alleviate the current skills shortage and strengthen the industry’s future.


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