New research from Trade-Up, a sector-wide campaign set up to train and up-skill tradespeople, exposes the industry’s talent barriers that stifle new entrants.
Trade-Up commissioned an independent survey among 2,087 people aged 25-60 across the UK. The findings reveal strong interest in pursuing a career in trade, with one in three (31%) individuals saying they are likely to consider becoming a tradesperson. Notably, this trend extends to women, with one in four (23%) open to skilled trades.
Despite growing interest, women continue to be outnumbered across the UK construction sector while the industry faces a growing skills gap. According to the latest ONS figures**, of the 2.1 million people currently employed in the construction industry, only 15% are women.
Trade-Up’s research explored the reasons behind the growing interest in trade. Flexibility (38%), good salary prospects (32%), a growing sector (30%) and stability (30%) topped the list of key motivations. Respondents who are not satisfied with their current career are particularly attracted to the sector’s flexibility and salary prospects.
Yet confidence is the biggest obstacle, with the perception of not having the right skills or not meeting industry stereotypes discouraging people from pursuing a career in trade. Half (51%) of people cite this as a reason they wouldn’t consider becoming a tradesperson, a common theme across both men (47%) and women (53%).
A third (36%) of respondents say having access to work opportunities with existing tradespeople to build confidence would encourage them into a trade career, whereas expensive training (33%) and retraining taking too long (29%) are considered some of the biggest roadblocks.
The collective call for better support is evident, with access to easy funding for courses (34%) and faster routes to be a qualified tradesperson (29%) cited amongst the most important enablers for people getting into the sector.
Despite current barriers, over half (53%) of respondents are motivated to learn new skills and knowledge in a domestic trade. A majority (60%) of people interested in exploring trade as a career pursuit are willing to take on extra training, including 50% of women. With centres covering many regions of the UK, Trade-Up’s expert training partners ensure learners are fully equipped with the latest tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
Melanie Waters, Managing Director of Trade-Up, commented: “The construction and trade industries are hungry for talent, and there is clear appetite to pursue a career in this space. The focus now is on shattering the glass ceiling and bridging the divide to build an industry that is not only inclusive, but welcoming.
“Trades are a compelling and achievable option for anyone wanting to reinvent themselves and their careers. Yet the research shows that more work needs to be done by the industry and government to provide accessible, affordable pathways into the sector. Only through continued investments in skilled training programmes and a focus on expanding opportunities to all can we truly increase diversity.
“It is encouraging to see the wave of new talent keen to enrich their careers and make a living helping others, and we must inspire more people to join the ranks, not only to protect the industry, but to help our workforce thrive.”