UK in danger of losing tradespeople to jobs abroad, reveals new study

IndustryNews Mon 7th Aug 2023 by KBBFocus

UK in danger of losing tradespeople to jobs abroad, reveals new study

UK in danger of losing tradespeople to jobs abroad, reveals new study

New research from find-a-tradesperson platform Rated People has revealed that UK tradespeople are looking to leave the country to find work abroad which could make the skills crisis even worse. The UK construction industry is already experiencing a severe labour shortage, with almost two-thirds (63%) of UK trades struggling to fill roles this year. Following recent news that Rishi Sunak has relaxed visa rules for foreign tradespeople to help plug the shortage, Rated People says more needs to be done to shore up the industry.

Brexit, a lack of young people getting into the industry and the cost-of-living crisis have all been cited as key factors contributing to the lack of skilled industry workers in the UK. A better quality of life and enhanced career opportunities are driving UK tradespeople to seek work abroad and the new study uncovers which countries are attracting our skilled workers the most. 

Researchers analysed Google data for 15 types of trade jobs in different countries around the world. In total, there were more than 1 million searches made for trade jobs in different countries since June 2022. Across the 15 trades, 10 are looking for work in Australia more than any other country. Saudi Arabia appears three times, and Brazil and Spain both feature once. 

The 2023 Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report reveals 48% of UK adults weren’t offered a trade career as a job option in careers advice at school. And, 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. The newly rolled-out initiative has also recently faced criticism. Ofsted says the courses offer poor value, inappropriate work placements and high dropout rates, despite being described by the UK Government as 'gold standard' vocational qualifications. 

As a result of fewer young people entering the workforce, the average age of trade workers in the UK is increasing. The most recent data is from 2018, where ONS reported one in every five UK-born construction workers was aged over 55,3 meaning that now (in 2023) they would have surpassed retirement age and not enough young people are entering the industry to fill the gaps. 

Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People, commented: “The Government’s latest bid to fix the shortage by relaxing visa requirements for foreign workers is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to fix the root cause by encouraging more young people into the industry. School careers advice should be highlighting the incredible opportunities available in the industry... The Government also needs to enhance T-Level qualifications and make it worthwhile for trades businesses to offer apprenticeships so young people can get valuable experience whilst learning on the job.”

Tags: industry, news, trades, installation, adrienne minster

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