There are renewed calls for the construction industry to create more apprenticeships and to bridge the skills gap by attracting more workers into the sector after new research reveals more than half of firms are struggling to hire tradespeople.
According to IronmongeryDirect’s More Skills Required report, one in six people (16 per cent) said it took more than three weeks to find a suitable tradesperson, while 13 per cent said it took up to two weeks, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) had to search for a week to get someone on board.
Two thirds of the 1,000 respondents noticed a shortage of skilled professionals when trying to find a person for the job.
A further third (33 per cent) said they noticed a shortage but eventually were able to find someone, while three per cent 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 per cent) still said they had to ring around to find a tradesperson as many were busy.
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.
“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.”