By Daniel Hunter

Britain will suffer from a crisis of skilled tradesmen unless new apprenticeship schemes are instigated immediately according to property maintenance and refurbishment entrepreneur Will Davies.

Research from a leading UK small business insurer discovered that 25% of plumbers and 19% of bricklayers have left their trades over the last four years.

"The government says that it is preparing to invest in infrastructure projects and home building. Where do they think the skilled tradesmen will come from?" said Mr Davies - who is the co-founder of aspect.co.uk and a long-term campaigner for a return to a traditional system of apprenticeship training.

"All the building trades have been hit by the recession and the almost non-existent housing market. If we don't start training youngsters immediately with these essential skills will be importing all our labour from Eastern Europe," said Mr Davies - who was an investment banker before creating his property maintenance company.

The research from Simply Business the UK's largest provider of insurance to small business also found that the number of joiners had fallen by 17% over the last three years and roofing businesses had dropped by 11%.

"The crux of the problem is that young British workers cannot compete with many European migrants. At the moment, if an eastern European is interviewed for a job and he has completed a full apprenticeship, as many of them have, then our young, long-term unemployed will have no chance being employed," said Mr Davies.

"There are over one million young unemployed in this country and they are becoming totally demoralised by the job market. If we don't deal with the problem we will be paying for our failure for decades to come," he said.

"The government has been keen to highlight its support for 'higher apprenticeships' but skill training for less qualified youngsters will provide real jobs and supply the workforce that we are going to need."

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