Screwfix analysis of trade’s recruitment problems

  • 5 Jan 2018

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Research by Screwfix suggests 57% of tradespeople struggle to find skilled labour, whilst 37% believe apprenticeships are not given enough respect as university and 31% think those leaving school are deterred by a bad impression of trade careers.

However, there were some positives to emerge from the statistics, with UK tradespeople expressing optimism about the future, as 82% expect business activity to remain at the same level or grow over the next 12 months.

As well as this, 45% state they were busier in 2017 than compared to 12 months previous.

In terms of the aforementioned 57% who are having difficulties in hiring support staff, the reasons pinpointed for this include too little focus on encouraging new people to train in a trade, the fact that are not enough local skilled tradespeople and the excesses of red tape associated with it all.

The research comes from Screwfix’s Trade Pulse, a monthly index surveying over 500 tradespeople in the UK, which tracks work levels and optimism in the trade.

Strong work levels across the trade were also indicated, with 18% of tradespeople saying they had more work than they can handle and 40% are quoting for more jobs than 12 months ago.

Other statistics included:

  • 94% of tradespeople would recommend a career in the trade – 85% for the strong sense of achievement when a job is complete and 80% for the enjoyment seeing the results of their hard work.
  • 57% said they started as apprentices, with 35% believing greater focus is needed on vocational education in schools.
  • 26% believe increased awareness about the opportunities offered by a trade career would see a growth in apprenticeships, with 19% believing consideration should be given to reducing red tape for employers looking to hire an apprentice.
  • 82% of tradespeople think more needs be done to attract people to work in the trade further into their lives.
  • 69% believe boosting awareness of available opportunities would help attract people into the trade, with 61% thinking increased knowledge of the support on offer to retrain is also vital.

CEO of Screwfix, Graham Bell, commented: “When we speak to tradespeople across our 546 stores, they reflect what these findings show us.

“Tradespeople tell us they have full work diaries but, many struggle to recruit skilled employees when looking to support their growing business so, it is clear that focused efforts are needed to drive recruitment and training into the trades.

“There is much focus on a reported construction skills challenge with various reasons given including loss of talent during the downturn and a lack of new entrants joining the trade.

“That’s why, now more than ever, all parties including government, suppliers and education providers should work together.

“It was encouraging to see the investment pledged into improving construction skills by the government in the recent Budget but, collectively, we also need to demonstrate why construction is such a great sector to work in and, help those who may be interested in embarking on a career in the trade to overcome barriers they may face.

“We also need to support tradespeople who want to take on apprentices or hire skilled labour to support their business at a time of much opportunity.”


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