66% of UK trades will have to cancel work due to workforce shortages this year

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New research from UK find-a-tradesperson platform, Rated People has revealed the impact of labour shortages on the construction industry in 2023. Almost two in three (63%) UK trades say they’re struggling with workforce shortages this year and 66% say they are having to cancel work as a result.

Rated People interviewed more than 2,000 tradespeople and homeowners across the UK. The study reveals plasterers, handypeople and builders are the top three trades that have been the most affected by workforce shortages.

In 2022, more than nine in 10 (93%) plasterers and renderers said a lack of skilled labour negatively affected their business. Similarly, 89% of handypeople said labour shortages impacted their business and 68% of builders couldn’t find enough workers.

More than half of bathroom fitters, painters and decorators, and gardeners and landscape gardeners also reported experiencing issues with labour shortages.

Top 10 trades that experienced workforce shortages in 2022

Rank Trade % Experienced Workforce Shortages in 2022
1 Plasterer/renderer 93%
2 Handyperson 89%
3 Builder 68%
4 Gardener/landscape gardener 64%
5 Painter and decorator 53%
6 Bathroom fitter 50%
7 Electrician 49%
8 Roofer 48%
9 Plumber 38%
10 Carpenter/Joiner 33%

The report discovered that tradespeople think the main driving force behind the workforce shortage is a lack of workers with adequate training or experience.

One of the biggest reasons for the scarcity of skilled workers over the past couple of years is the impact of Brexit – this has prevented many highly-skilled tradespeople from having working rights in the UK and it has also meant many people working in the industry decided to leave the UK.

UK tradespeople cite a lack of young people getting into the industry as the second-largest contributing factor to the current shortages, whilst careers advice at school failing to advocate for trades was specifically named by one in eight (12%) tradespeople.

The trades platform is calling on the government to do more to plug the labour shortage gap and it says more needs to be done to encourage young people into the industry.

As part of the research, Rated People discovered 48% of UK adults weren’t offered a trade career as a job option in careers advice when they were at school. Despite the UK government rolling out T-Levels to encourage more young people into apprenticeships, fewer than 10,000 students enrolled on a T-Level course last year.

Rated People hopes its latest research will help to promote the incredible benefits of working in a trade profession, including high earnings, low stress and a strong work-life balance.

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