A national shortage of skilled tradespeople, including plumbers and electricians, is set to cost the UK £98bn in missed economic growth by 2030. 

The UK is currently facing a shortage of 166,000 tradespeople, with vacancy levels for many trades close to record highs.

The shortfall is forecast to grow to 250,000 tradespeople by 2030 as more homeowners look to improve their property’s energy efficiency by installing measures like insulation, heat pumps or solar panels. The biggest shortages are set to be among electricians, plumbing and heating installers, and carpenters/joiners.

The West and East Midlands and London are the regions predicted to be most impacted by tradesperson shortages, with regional GDP growth reduced by £14.5 billion, £12.1 billion and £11.7 billion respectively.

Find out more about the shortage of tradespeople and impact on GDP across the regions by 2030:

To bridge the trade skills gap, we are proposing measures under three areas where Government could make a meaningful difference, based on research and insight from our trade customers:

1. Stronger career advice in schools to encourage young people to take up a trade career

  • Review the remit of the National Careers Service to look at how pathways to trade careers could be better represented in school careers advice. Emphasise how trades can contribute to tackling climate change and offer opportunities to run your own business.
  • Encourage schools to invite tradespeople to careers fairs and talks with students, particularly women working in trades to ensure more visible role models.

2. Hiring incentives to support SMEs in taking on, training and retaining apprentices

  • Introduce a grant similar to the £3,000 apprenticeship incentive that was in place during the pandemic, with a £1,000 apprenticeship completion bonus, to support SMEs in taking on apprentices. Combine this with a partial or complete National Insurance break per apprentice for SMEs.
  • Create a simple one-stop advice service to help tradespeople to hire apprentices, with practical guidance on navigating issues such as pensions and insurance.  
  • Explore ways to incentivise older tradespeople who may be thinking about retiring, or wanting to work part-time, to use their experience to help train up the next generation of trade apprentices.

3. Cost of living support to ensure trade apprenticeships are financially viable for young people

  • Provide Trade Apprentices with loan support similar to university students to help them with the set-up costs of their apprenticeship (e.g. purchase of necessary tools and clothing).
  • Raise the apprentice minimum wage to the same rate as the national minimum wage for apprentices under 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship.

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