Wanted skilled labour

The Office for National Statistics have recently reported that, in September, the number of job vacancies for skilled tradespeople reached beyond the 40,000 mark – for the first time since records began.

Construction firms across the UK are having to advertise en masse for more tradespeople, as they are simply running out. Battling material shortages and delays, as well as a dwindling workforce, firms are putting out the call for more skilled workers to carry out the rising demand for construction work. 

But despite rising salaries, higher rates, and plenty of work opportunities, they’re having a hard time finding enough people to get the job done. And September’s heights of demand has followed us to November, with 221,000 adverts were posted in the first week of the month across all sectors, taking the number of advertised roles up to a record high of 2.68 million, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which tracks the number of job vacancy adverts.

Despite labour shortages, material shortages, and a slight reduction in the industry’s growth in recent months, the construction industry is still thriving. But that’s not to say there is no strain; a survey run by the Federation of Master Builders State of Trade found that 53% of builders are finding it hard to hire carpenters, and 47% can’t find enough bricklayers. 98% of those who responded also noted a substantial increase in the cost of materials. 

The Guardian reported on construction business owner Sebastian Przetakowski, who describes the difficulties faced by skills shortages following the double impact of Brexit and Covid. He notes that there is plenty of work coming in after the pandemic, particularly ‘from people with money for projects like extensions and loft conversions’. But he is struggling to find the a big enough workforce to complete the work that’s on offer, and fulfill the demand: 


‘I’m fully booked up to next year, and can’t take on any jobs because I can’t get the people. Everyone is struggling to find workers’.


The answer, then, is more workers. More skilled tradespeople who can make sure the constant demand for construction work is met. Przetakowski mentioned in the report that, despite his reduced workforce, those who are working for him have had a pay rise, ‘in order to reward them in some way’ for the extra workload they have been given. Doesn’t that sound like a promising trade-off?

So with construction vacancies at a record-breaking high, where will it go from here? Ian Anfield, the managing director of payroll firm Hudson Contract, suggests that it’s going to continue climbing. Although the end of lockdown support schemes helped get a number of people back into work, ‘there is still stiff competition for skilled labour and plenty of work for those who want it’, he says:


‘Demand for labour at this time of year is always high with clients and subcontractors wanting to get things done and earn some money before Christmas and the onset of the worst weather conditions in January’.


The long and short of it is, the construction industry will reward you highly. It will give you a career for life, and while demand is soaring, the pay is good. It is an indispensible industry, and one that needs your help. 

By Spring, Anfield predicts, productivity rates will be back at their pre-Christmas levels, and it’s only upwards from there. You can become a fully qualified tradesperson in this time – you just have to go for it. Reap the rewards of a highly productive, highly fulfilling industry. Get involved, get working, and get earning.

Call Access Training today and find out how we can make it a reality for you.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Skilled tradespeople

“We have come off a cliff edge’’, proclaims Jerry Swain, the national officer for construction at Unite the Union. He is talking about the UK’s current skills shortage, an issue which has been brewing for at least as long as the last decade, and intensified by the recent impacts of Brexit and Covid. With Boris Johnson’s dictum that we must ‘build back better’ ringing across media channels, industry leaders are beginning to question whether this ambition will be possible without a surge in new skilled tradespeople. 

“The industry has relied on foreign labour”, Swain continues. “It takes at least two years to make a decent bricklayer or carpenter. So now there is a limited pool to draw from”. It is an issue which has plagued industry leaders for over five years now – with a considerable dependence on EU workers making up the construction industry taskforce, what will happen when they eventually return to the EU? Without relaxing migrant visas to make the employment process more viable, it looks as though we have to depend upon homegrown skilled tradespeople. But is there enough being done to encourage this?

Well, considering the significant wage rise seen all across the board for tradespeople, it’s surprising that more people haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, though many have taken up the mantle and upskilled during the pandemic. Wages are skyrocketing for tradespeople. As an example, the Financial Times reported that the typical bricklayer is raking in around £220 per day, and often more. Before the pandemic, this figure was around £150-180, and this considerable growth is true of all trades across the board. Tradespeople are in such demand that they are able to command their salaries to an unprecedented level. Things have never looked more promising for those with the right skills – so why aren’t more people joining the workforce? 

Building companies are similarly baffled at the lack of available skilled tradespeople. A recent survey conducted by the Federation of Master Builders found that ‘more than half of its members were struggling to find the workers they need. The Financial Times also reported the case of Phil Wish, a builder and architect from Brighton, whose construction project was at serious risk of facing a long delay had he not had to muck in with the work himself, even convincing family members to help him out in order to get the job done. 


‘I couldn’t find an electrician for love nor money’, he says. The strain on the construction industry is taking its toll on smaller domestic projects, like Phil’s, as well as larger scale nationwide projects. All come under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘build back better’, and Phil’s experience has left him less than hopeful: ‘you can’t build back better without enough builders’. 


Phil offers his opinion as to why more people aren’t joining the ranks of thriving tradespeople, putting it down to an “ingrained snobbery towards the trades”. He suggests that the perception of the trade industry is still serving as a huge obstacle to attracting bigger numbers of young skilled workers, despite attempts to change the image of construction. Trade jobs are, in Phil’s opinion, “seen as a last resort for kids who’ve failed to get into university". The enormous value, dignity and high-skilled nature of these jobs is not being sold to the masses, and it is of great importance that this message is communicated loud, clear – and quickly.

‘Build back better’ is beginning to absorb an essence of irony about it, as Boris Johnson’s promise is clearly under-delivering. Those within the trade industry are beginning to see it as something of a joke, as they continue to struggle with a dramatically limited workforce; projects are facing delays, and on top of this, material shortages are proving difficult to overcome. 

A survey by Homebuilders Federation found the following concerning statistics, to give a stark indication of just how much work there is to be done. For every 10,000 new houses built, 30,000 new recruits are needed; this includes 2,500 bricklayers, 1,000 carpenters, and 300 electricians. Considering that the UK Government has aimed for 300,000 new houses to be built every year, there is clearly a gargantuan task ahead of us.

But what is the solution? Further education colleges have been seen to be failing in their attempts to provide the country with the next generation of tradespeople. Jenny Herdman, director of the home building skills partnership at the Homebuilders Federation, has noted how potential young tradespeople are slipping through the cracks of these institutions, and suggests that as many as 60-70,000 young people who ‘could come into construction every year’ do not end up doing so. And even if those people are signing up for apprenticeships, this option takes too long to provide the UK with a supply of tradespeople in the necessary time.

Private training colleges such as Access Training are the way forward. Offering direct, dynamic training with the sole intention of setting you up for business, teaching you the skills you need, perfecting your craft and getting you onsite. It just takes one call for you to be a part of something bigger – a valued member of the trade industry. 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Climate emergency

With the Cop26 Climate Meeting having come to an end in Glasgow, the pressing nature of the Climate Emergency is on everyone’s mind. Sustainable and environmentally conscious practices are of obvious importance and concern to the construction industry, and much is being done to advance the efficiency and carbon neutrality of building methods. But engagement with the ongoing crisis could also transform the construction industry in ways than one – it could help to close the skills gap.

One glaring obstacle faced by recruitment experts in the construction industry is the lack of people, specifically in the younger generation, training to become skilled tradespeople. Meanwhile, the current workforce is getting older, and EU workers are leaving the UK following the impacts of Brexit. At a time when the UK construction industry needs to be recruiting workers in their tens of thousands, the opposite trends are all too clear to see. Fewer young people are being drawn to the prospect of a career in construction than previous generations, and as a result, the future success of important infrastructure projects – like the promise of building an extra 300,000 houses per year, for example – hangs in the balance.

But one suggested approach towards attracting the next generation has been to engage more actively, more overtly, and with more urgency, to the ongoing Climate Emergency. Raj Somal, Director of Dice, a civil and structural engineering consultancy, has recently published an article addressing the ‘sustainable values’ shared by the younger ‘Gen-Z’ demographic, and suggests that ‘aligning’ with these values and ‘promoting an inclusive culture’ could dramatically aid attempts to close the skills gap, and attract future generations towards working in construction. At the same time, the industry could finally rid itself of outdated and inaccurate preconceptions which many have seen as the reason for a drop off in younger trainees. 

A recent report has found that 62% of ‘Gen-Z’ are ‘aware and engaged with climate emergency issues’, but only ⅓ members of that generation see the construction industry as a place where they can meaningfully tackle these issues. It is surely a wise call, then, to ensure that the construction industry is seen to be fully addressing climate issues, not only to close the skills gap, but to ensure better environmental practice for its own sake, and go some way in realising net-zero targets by 2050.

Technology is key to this change, Somal writes. Perceptions of the industry are already changing with the introduction of advanced modern technologies, particularly in building methods and practices. REVIT, for example, is a tool used by Dice to generate 3D models of buildings, and technical mark-ups are increasingly used on iPads and other devices in order to ensure paperless practice. Using devices in the workplace has been viewed as a way to cater for a generation of highly technologically-literate individuals, who have essentially grown up using devices such as these.

But this development is not far enough by any means, and this much is acknowledged. Not only should building methods be environmentally conscious, but the projects themselves should adopt the same ambitions of carbon neutrality, especially considering that the built environment contributes towards 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint. It is not hard to understand why environmentally conscious, concerned young people are not feeling as comfortable as would be desired in pursuing careers within the construction industry – opportunities to avert climate disaster may not yet seem plentiful in the sector.

But the construction industry is changing, and there is much evidence of this. Modern methods of construction (MMC) are being constantly promoted by industry leaders, and more sustainable practices are seen more and more as a ‘win-win’ for businesses and developers – they save time and money for both parties. Businesses increasingly have an incentive to adopt the most environmentally friendly methods. And this is crucial, as noted above, not only to alleviate the concerns of the younger generation but to address the environmental issues which concern everybody on the planet. 

If the construction industry can demonstrate its intentions to make a meaningful impact on issues surrounding climate, we could see a complete transformation in the number of young people who see the industry as a place of opportunity, to manifest environmental concerns and use those concerns to instigate change. The construction industry can place itself at the forefront of technological developments which aid our common progress towards net-zero targets. 

After the momentous fortnight witnessed at Cop26 in Glasgow, and amid concerning reports that the planet is heating even beyond worst fears, it is more imperative than ever that change is enacted on the ground – that every new build, every piece of maintenance, every individual tradesperson, enacts the positive environmentally-conscious change that is needed. With everyone on board, who knows what the construction industry can achieve. 

If you want to be a part of the changing face of the construction industry, there is no need to wait, and no time to lose. Become a skilled tradesperson today to join a workforce growing in environmental awareness. Use construction to create your meaningful impact. 


Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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Apprentice electrician

An electrical apprenticeship is kind of like a cross between a university course and a full-time job. Apprentices carry out real-life electrical work (under the supervision of an experienced electrician, of course) and get paid for it; but they also spend part of their time in the classroom, studying their new trade and the theory that underpins it. Apprentice electricians typically spend at least 20% of their working hours studying.

Some see the time-honoured apprenticeship route as a rite of passage for budding tradespeople. But an electrical apprenticeship is rarely the most efficient way to get qualified and start your career.


The drawbacks of an electrical apprenticeship

An apprenticeship might sound like the best of both worlds, combining the perks of being a student (i.e. self-betterment and opportunities to make new friends) with the benefits of working (i.e. getting paid).

However, apprenticeships have two major downsides:

  • They take years to complete. According to apprenticeships.gov.uk, an apprenticeship can take anywhere from 1 to 6 years. On average, electrical apprenticeships tend to take 3 or 4 years - so if you become an apprentice at the age of 18, there's a good chance you'll turn 21 before you turn professional!

  • Apprentice electricians don't make much money. As an apprentice, you won't be paid anywhere near as much as a fully-fledged pro. According to Indeed, the average salary for an electrician in the UK is £32,415 per year - but an apprentice electrician in the UK makes just £17,467 per year. And as mentioned above, you'll have to wait a few years before you can strike out on your own and start making big money.


Why wait years to become a professional electrician?

If you're eager to get qualified and start your electrical career ASAP, there is a speedy alternative to the traditional apprenticeship route.

Here at Access Training Academies, we offer a selection of fast-track electrical courses that are specifically designed to turn novices into fully-qualified electricians as quickly as possible. If you're not thrilled by the prospect of spending the next few years as an apprentice - not making all that much money and working with someone else looking over your shoulder - then our training courses are the perfect alternative.

With our help, you can earn industry-recognised qualifications and achieve 'professional electrician' status in a matter of months. Contact us now to check upcoming course dates, or click the button below to explore your options.

Browse Electrician Courses >

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Recovery graph

Now one and a half years on since the Covid-19 pandemic effectively shut down the world, the dust appears to be settling on the construction industry’s state of affairs. There have been numerous obstacles, triumphs, setbacks, and delays of all kinds over this period. Material shortages, fears of redundancy, social distancing measures to be overcome, and the threat of site closures. At a time where such significant construction projects as HS2 are already behind schedule and costing ever greater amounts of money, this is the last thing we need. 

For the last year and a half, industry leaders have waited with baited breath, casting hopeful speculation and quiet apprehension on the future of the construction industry. Will there be opportunities for growth on the other side? Will there be careers for skilled tradespeople? Will we have the means to provide the country with the services it so desperately needs? 

But the industry has bounced back. Thanks to perseverance, discipline and brute determination to overcome these unprecedented challenges, we have powered through lockdown after lockdown, adjusting to the circumstances and ensuring that we get the job done. 

The construction industry has served as a crucial lifeboat for those whose careers were unfortunately left untenable by the pandemic’s ruthlessness. Redundancies across a range of sectors, such as hospitality and entertainment, meant that thousands of people across the country left their jobs, either voluntarily or otherwise. 

Thankfully, many of these people decided to retrain in trade and never looked back. A few months into the pandemic, it was evident that the services of tradespeople were going to remain in full demand – and someone had to provide those services.

It takes little digging to discover some striking evidence for the construction industry’s incredible performance and recovery over the last year or so. Not only have levels of productivity and profit returned to where they left off in March 2020, but quite often they have sky-rocketed past them. 

The construction firm Clancy Group, for example, reported that their profits actually tripled during this great year of disruptions in the midst of the pandemic. Their pre-tax profit came in at £11.1m as of 28 March 2021, up from £3.5m the previous year – a figure which beggars belief considering the circumstances. 

As the pandemic took its early toll in April and May of 2020, the company’s revenue dropped by 20%, and 500 of its 2,200 staff were forced into furlough. Things were not looking good, and the future was as uncertain as it seemed for the rest of the world. They had it as tough as anybody, but benefited greatly from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which meant they were able to avoid making redundancies. 

Kevin Clancy, Chairman of Clancy Group, said with noted optimism that ‘the vast majority [of the Clancy workforce] have returned to work successfully’, thanks to the support offered by the CJRS. He continues: 


‘The pandemic has had a significant impact, but it has also highlighted the fundamental strength of our business. Within a few weeks of the onset of the pandemic, our team was predominantly classified as key workers and played an essential role in maintaining the country’s infrastructure throughout the pandemic’


These comments demonstrate the industry’s ability to get back on its feet with determination and dignity, and to ensure that last year’s delays are erased and made up for. They highlight the industry’s fundamental purpose in our society and in our daily lives, and it injects enormous value into the role of tradespeople. ‘Key workers’, ‘essential roles’, and ‘fundamental strength’ are not phrases to be taken lightly, and it is greatly inspiring to see that highly skilled tradespeople are being given the opportunities, protection, and security they deserve.

If you are considering becoming a skilled tradesperson, then now is the time to do so. There is no doubt whatsoever that the construction industry is picking itself up and moving the country forward. It is offering employment to a vast range of skilled and hardworking people, across a huge range of roles. It could be the career you never knew you needed – it could be yours for life. 

Access Training can give you the step up that you need to become trained, become confident in your skills, and to set out on your career. It’s only a call away. 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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