The Workers Union has hailed the contribution of the UK’s tradespeople, calling them ‘essential’ to the social and economic fabric of the country.
In a statement released this morning, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘Plumbers, electricians and everyone involved in the skilled trades are due a massive pat on the back for their role in keeping our country moving. In many cases they’ve worked right the way through the pandemic, dealing with our domestic disasters and helping the old, sick and vulnerable to maintain hot water and energy supplies in treacherous times. We think that they’re long overdue a vote of thanks from us all.’
The statement comes at a time of high demand for tradespeople. Companies around the country are experiencing a boom in custom, thanks to home-based workers choosing to make improvements to suit their new working arrangements. The boom is also thought to reflect the current limitations on moving house.
Despite the spike in demand, many firms are complaining of gaping holes in their ability to recruit workers with the requisite skills and experience. The problem is seen as a structural consequence of failing to convince young people of the merits of a construction career.
For example, a recent survey by the Homebuilders Federation revealed that every 10,000 new houses require 30,000 recruits to build them. These include nearly 2,500 bricklayers, 300 electricians and 1,000 carpenters. In order tackle this issue head on, the government has set up the “Construction Skills Delivery Group,” which is ‘working to improve and build on the existing ecosystem of training offers to ensure that the construction sector is equipped to respond to the needs of the labour market.’
Part of the group strategy is to deliver “accelerated apprenticeships” to fast track workers through their training. It is expected to deliver more than 3,000 apprenticeship starts in 2021/22, yet industry insiders still point to a lack of boots on the ground coming out of FE colleges, where many of those who do graduate with the relevant skills opt to become self-employed, rather than go down the apprenticeship route.
The Workers Union Says…
Tradespeople are fundamental to the success of our society and should be celebrated as such. Without them, homes, offices and places of leisure would never be built. Our houses, supposedly the castles of the collective British imagination, would not have running water, energy or modern conveniences such as dishwashers and heating systems.
So it is with some feeling that we say, the UK must look again and reassess its view of vocational training. It should not be seen as poor relation to academic qualifications – especially when many courses, such electrical engineering and plumbing contain elements of mathematics and physics. Rather we should, instead, value our tradespeople as the rock on which British economic success has always been built.