Skills shortage starts to hit other trades including plumbers and roofers

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A new study has revealed the skills shortage has moved beyond bricklayers and carpenters, with plumbers and roofers now in short supply

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has reported the skills shortage has spread to other trades. Initially, issues were seen recruiting bricklayers and carpenters but this problem is now being felt in other areas, including plumbers and roofers.

A survey from the trade body of more than 230 small construction firms revealed that half were experiencing issues finding roofers.

Skills shortage expands

Chief executive of the FMB Brian Berry said: “We’ve been experiencing a severe shortage of bricklayers and carpenters for quite some time.

“These latest statistics show that skills shortages are now seeping into other key trades such as roofers and plumbers.

“Of the 15 key trades and occupations we monitor, 40 per cent show skills shortages at their highest point since we started to feel the effects of the skills crisis in 2013, when the industry bounced back post-downturn.

“This growing skills deficit is driving up costs for small firms and simultaneously adding to the pressure being felt by soaring material prices linked to the weaker pound.”

As well as seeing issues recruiting plumbers and roofers, difficulties are also being reported hiring electricians and plasterers.

Skills problem persists

Shortages recruiting skilled workers is not a new problem, but it does seem to be a persistent one. At the end of last year, an analysis from construction and rail recruiter One Way highlighted skills shortages still remain a massive problem, with nowhere near enough new workers entering the industry to keep up with growing demand.

With a raft of infrastructure projects planned by the government, plus an increasing push for new housing there is little doubt skills shortages will remain a topic of discussion for a long time to come. The government, industry, and the education sector have a part to play in this.

Schools and universities can do more to attract talent

A survey carried out by building service provider Novus found 73 per cent of respondents thought schools and universities were not doing enough to raise awareness about the variety of construction jobs available.

Speaking at the time Novus Property Solutions’ Head of HR Stuart Cavanagh said: “Reiterating the quality and value of a career in construction will make a lasting impression on future generations. Of course, it begins with schools.

“How we intend to make construction appealing is completely dependent on our approach at the earliest stages of a person’s development.

“We have to be informed, understanding and focused – construction may not appeal to some, but it’s clear that the industry is missing out on recruiting some really talented people simply because of a lack of awareness.”

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