The UK Labour Shortage's Effect on the Skilled Trades

The UK Labour Shortage's Effect on the Skilled Trades

Skilled tradesman working on a radiatior

Earlier this year in January, The House of Commons had their initial debate over the skills and labour shortages that were apparent within the UK economy.

Previous research conducted by the ONS in late 2022 revealed that 13.3% of businesses currently have a shortage of workers. One of the industries that has been effected most by the skills shortage is the construction industry, with 20.7% of all construction businesses being impacted by the current skills shortages.


Why is there a UK trade skills shortage?

According to About Apprenticeships, 35% of the construction and trades workforce is aged 50 and over. This aging workforce is likely to put increasing strain on these industries over the next 10 years. In order to meet the demand for construction workers and tradesman, the UK needs a pipeline of young talent in place. That’s why apprenticeships are so encouraged as they're an excellent opportunity for young members of the UK workforce to embark on a highly rewarding, lifelong career.

It's not just an aging workforce that's at play here, though. There are many economical and political reasons behind the labour shortages within the skilled trades industries:


Post-pandemic supply & demand

Put simply, the demand for labour is greater than the supply currently available. 

According to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Report, 'labour above pre-pandemic levels, while labour supply is below pre-pandemic levels'. 


Long-term illness

In September 2022, the number of 'economically inactive' people with a long-term illness reached its peak since records began in 1993. 

The figure for economically inactive people is now a staggering 2.5 million.

This also ties into another reason - long Covid. The number of people diagnosed with long Covid has been on the rise since February 2021.


Early retirement increase

During the pandemic, there was a general trend identified within a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in June 2022.

The trend revealed that older workers responded to the reduction in labour demand by simply not looking for work, going from unemployed to inactive. The changes in hybrid and flexible working structures may have also had an impact on this decision. 


Vacancies in the skilled trades

The latest figures from September - November 2022 revealed the number of vacancies open within each industry. 

Those within the skilled trades includes:

  • Construction: 48,000 vacancies
  • Water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities: 7,000 vacancies
  • Electricity, gas, steam & air conditioning supply: 6,000 vacancies


How can Access Training help?

At Access Training, we are committed to helping trade workers succeed in their chosen career path. Whether it be plumbing, construction, gas engineering or electrical work - we work to ensure that you receive the best education through our fast-track trade courses.

The labour skills shortage doesn't have to have an impact on our industry for too much longer, and we're doing our bit to ensure that employers will always be able to find high-quality, skilled and trained employees in our students.

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