Industry responds to decline in skilled tradespeople

By Katie Anderson on March 22nd, 2013

A recent survey has revealed that in the past 12 months the UK has seen a 7% fall in the number of skilled tradespeople, with the plumbing sector being the hardest hit. 

According to figures published by Simply Business, an insurance company which compares business insurance, in the past four years the plumbing industry has taken the hardest knock, with a 25% decline in skilled traders. While Simply Business has attributed the present UK economic climate for the significant drop, notable figures in the plumbing industry, like Charlie Mullins from Pimlico Plumbers for example, believes there’s more to it than just a miserable housing market.

Mullins has pinpointed a lack of training opportunities for traditional skilled trades, including plumbers and electricians, which he says has no doubt impacted on the drop in the number of plumbers trading in the UK. According to the founder of Pimlico Plumbers while economic conditions have seen better days, it’s bigger than simply a recessionary issue. Mullins believes it’s also an educational issue which is responsible for the figures.

“Vocational training became seen as sub-standard and secondary to academic-led learning in the last 20 years. The idea that to have a good career everybody needs to go to university is responsible for this,” explains Mullins.

He adds that the UK needs more skilled tradesmen and women if the country has any hope of getting the required levels back up to where they should be. But because the UK  has tried to play “catch up” for too many years, as it stands it’s a question of “too little, too late” despite ongoing industry attempts to increase the number of skilled tradespeople.

Currently Pimlico, which is the largest independent plumbing firm in the UK, have more than 30 vacancies for skilled and experienced plumbers but the company says it can be challenging to find individuals with the right skills and experience.

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