There is a shortage of skilled workers in Britain; from plumbers and builders to engineers. Construction and technical companies have blamed the recession for a lack of apprentices and have called on the government and schools to promote trades. Despite this, demand for workers in this area has never been higher. So, how’s the state of tradesman industry looking overall?
Back in 2013, only 7,280 apprentices completed their training across all trades whilst the training body estimates that 35,000 are needed just to meet demand.
The Royal Academy of Engineering suggests Britain will need more than one million new engineers and technicians by 2020. This mean will mean doubling the current annual figure of engineering graduates and apprentices. There is a shortage in all sectors from transport to high-value manufacturing.
The construction industry is growing extremely quickly compared to the rest of the economy:
- There is an increased demand of 18% for private housing and 8% for private commercial sector builds
- Those benefiting most from this are workers such as site managers, engineers, architects and surveyors – with earnings increasing twice as quickly as the national average
- Plumbers in the nation’s capital can now earn up to £100,000 a year
So, despite an increase in demand and in pay, why is it that so few apprentices and graduates are coming through in the traditional trade industries?
A recent survey of students aged 14 to 18 years of age (80% male, 20% female to maintain statistical integrity) found that 94% of students were not interested in pursuing a career in the trades.
Why don’t kids find trades ‘cool’?
- 53% said working in trades doesn’t interest them
- 25% said they were not ‘mechanically inclined’
- 24% said they are not good at fixing things
- 21% said they are not educated enough about the industries
- 15% didn’t think that trades were ‘cool’
- 10% said the trades weren’t high-tech enough
In addition to this, 54% of young people believed that working in computers led to a better future, 37% believed working in an office gains you more respect and 25% believed that trade jobs were ‘old-fashioned’. That means fitting internal bi-fold doors wouldn’t be too popular at the moment – can you believe it?!
Is it easy to find a reliable tradesman these days?
- 85% of people think that it’s not easy to find a trusted tradesman
- 11% of people think it’s not difficult at all, with 5% unsure of the difficulty
How people are finding tradesmen
- 81% of tradesmen are personally recommended by a friend or neighbour
- 79% of people want to know the cost of the work up-front
- 67% check that a tradesman belongs to a trade association
- 63% do an online search for reviews
- 61% check the company or tradesman’s website
- 59% ensure the tradesman promises a receipt
- 39% visit a former client’s project/home to check out work for themselves (if external)
- Only 1% of people would not do any checks
Why do people hire tradesmen?
- 60% of people say that a job is too difficult to complete themselves
- 53% are seeking a professional finish
- 28% do not have time to complete a job
Of the tradesmen hired by homeowners in the UK
- 85% listened carefully to what they required
- 84% showed up at the agreed time
- 51% used polite language
- 39% were older and more experienced
- 38% took their shoes off at the door
- 14% used impressive, modern tools
- 13% used business cards
- 12% wore branded overalls
- 4% were younger with more recent training
Tips for finding more work as a trader
Unfortunately, there is always going to be a relative degree of prejudice when it comes to looking for a skilled tradesman; an older worker may appear more trusted due to their experience. Therefore, especially if you’re younger, it’s essential to do the following things to turn leads into work:
- be attentive; show a genuine interest in their plans
- be punctual; show up on time or, preferably, 5 minutes early to every appointment
- be polite; refrain from swearing
- be courteous; take your shoes off at the door
- be organised; write customers a quote quickly – and make it accurate!
- be pro-active; if you’ve done a good job, ask customers if they can leave you a review online
- be technological; have a simple but effective website
Whilst it’s impossible to ‘be older’, acting maturely and dressing smartly can help you to appear more experienced.
Things that aren’t as important and could save your business money are:
- impressive, modern tools: are they really necessary?
- Branded overalls: they’re only going to get dirty, and there isn’t a heavy importance placed on them by homeowners
Business cards, however, are always essential – even if it’s not a deciding factor in earning you your current job. Remember – the biggest number of leads are generated through word-of-mouth – if they can give your card to someone else that needs work, you’ve expanded your reach simply by doing a good job.