The CEO of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) has issued a stark warning that the current shortage of workers being faced by many industries could be the long-term reality for the home improvement industry if action is not taken to develop a new generation of skilled tradespeople.
Responding to the publication of the latest Jobs Recovery Tracker from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which shows a record number of open job vacancies now including carpenters and joiners for the first time, Damian Walters, BiKBBI’s CEO, pictured, has warned that it is not just employers that are being hit by staff shortages, but also consumers and businesses who rely on self-employed tradespeople.
Walters said: “The alarm bells need to be ringing as the REC report does not come close to the full scale of the worker shortage crisis. Industries like ours, that are essential to home improvement delivered by skilled professionals, are predominantly made up by self-employed traders not covered by job vacancy statistics. Like other industries though, we are seeing a major shortage of people able to take up jobs. Put bluntly, there are just not enough skilled installers to keep up with the current boom in consumer demand for home improvements. This means customers are having to wait months instead of weeks for new kitchens and bathrooms to be installed.
“Unfortunately, this lack of skilled tradespeople is part of a long term trend. Not enough young people have been encouraged to come into industries like ours, despite the prospect of a high-earning, stable career that it offers. We’ve got by for too long with an ageing workforce which is now looking forward to retirement – with over a third of installers suggesting that they are making retirement plans in a recent survey we ran. This means that the current shortages could get much worse over the coming years.
“Other industries have called for an expansion to the Shortage Occupation List that allows skilled workers from overseas to take up jobs in the UK but this would at best be a sticking plaster. What's needed is a nationwide effort to encourage youngsters into the industries that people rely on alongside sustained investment into skills training. We’re doing our part with a new apprenticeship programme launching this year but it’s going to take the full effort of industry and Government working together to deal with this crisis.”