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A guide to tackling the skills gap

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The skills shortage has been a growing concern for many years; ever since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the issue has become all the more pressing.

What is the skills gap?

A 2021 report by the BBC found that although job vacancies in the UK were climbing, there are still not enough trades to fill positions.

In Q3 of 2020, construction vacancies increased by over 200%, says CV library.

The skills shortage has been a growing concern for many years; ever since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the issue has become all the more pressing.

So pressing that homeowners and consumers are starting to take notice. Chief executive of Checkatrade, Richard Harpin, stated:

“Our research in Checkatrade says 80% of homeowners are going to improve their home this year but they can only do that if we have sufficient trades to do those home improvements.”

So, where has the issue come from, and what can we do about it?

Why is it there?

Richard Harpin believed a strong contributor to the construction skills shortage was Brexit, which has persuaded many EU migrant tradespeople to leave the UK.

It’s also argued that one of the main reasons for the UK skills shortage is an ageing workforce. Construction Online estimates that 22% of the construction industry is over 50 years old, and 15% are 60 or older. As tradespeople reach retirement age, we know fewer are entering the workforce to replace them.

What can we do about it?

Bridging the skills gap isn’t something that the construction industry can achieve alone; we need wider support from the government.

Richard Harpin suggests two solutions to solve the UK skills shortage in the construction industry. First, an expansion of the government’s shortage of occupations list, and secondly, a move to persuade more school leavers to take up apprenticeships instead of going to university.

However, we can also play our part in reversing the skills gap by engaging the next generation by changing perceptions of the industry, upskilling existing workers to broaden their skillsets, and encouraging greater diversity in our workforce.

Here at On The Tools getting people into trade professions is something we’re passionate about. How do you think we can attract new entrants into the industry?

Find out more about the construction industry skills gap in our Talking Trade episode.
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