construction site

The construction sector is being urged to create more apprenticeships and find ways to attract workers to the sector after new research found over half of the UK population are struggling to hire a tradesperson.

One in six people (16%) found it took them more than six weeks to find a suitable tradesperson, with 13% said it took up to two weeks, according to a survey of 1,000 people who have required the services of a trade professional over the past year.

The study by IronmongeryDirect, also found almost a quarter (24%) had to search for a week to get someone on board.

Two thirds of respondents noticed a shortage of skilled professionals when trying to find a person for the job, a third of which said they noticed a shortage but eventually were able to find someone.

The research found 3% admitted they noticed a shortage and as a result couldn’t find anyone suitable to undertake the job required.

Even for those that didn’t notice a shortage, over a quarter (26%) still said they had to ring around to find a tradesperson as many were busy - perhaps because resources are stretched due to the shortage of workers in the sector.

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “There has been a lot of discussion in the construction sector recently about the growing skills shortage and how the crisis will affect the industry in the future if the problem isn’t tackled.

“From our research, we can already see that the shortage is having an impact on the UK’s ability to source skilled tradespeople. However, it did indicate that it’s not too bad yet, as 48% of people are generally able to find a suitable tradesperson within a couple of days.

“However, Britain’s impending departure from the EU is likely to have an effect on the labour force so it’s important that the sector takes immediate action to bridge the skills gap, and prevent the issue from getting worse.

The research was undertaken as part of IronmongeryDirect’s ‘More Skills Required’ report to find out what effect the skills shortage is having on the UK’s ability to find qualified tradespeople.

Mr. Lysaght-Mason added: “One way to attract more talent and skills to the sector is to create more apprenticeships. Currently there are not enough young people entering the profession to meet existing work requirements, nor to replace the number of workers soon to hit retirement age.

"Firms could also look at upskilling their existing staff to improve workforce quality and create more specialist talent so they can take on new types of work.

“It’s really important that the whole industry works together to promote the range of rewarding construction careers available in order to attract a new generation of workers, before it’s too late.”