The shortage of skilled tradesman in the construction industry was well reported over two years ago when small business insurer Simply Business reported that the number of skilled tradesman had dropped by 7% in the previous 12 months. The biggest falls were for bricklayers (-19%) and joiners (-17%), while between 2009 and 2013 it was estimated that the number of plumbers
fell by 25%.
This was all understandable at the time because the residential construction industry almost ground to a halt in 2009 and as more tradesman competed for a shrinking pool of work, average wages for those professions dropped by up to 40% in some cases. Two years later though, and most of the plumbers that stayed in the trade most likely now have more work than they can handle and are probably earning more than ever before.
That is great news for tradesman of course but it is terrible news for the construction industry and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reported in February this year that 27,000 construction projects may have to be shelved every year by 2019 due to a lack of skilled tradesman available.
RICS polled many of their members and discovered that 43% of them have already been forced to decline construction, engineering and manufacturing opportunities due to a shortage of skilled workers. Even more worrying is the fact that the skills shortage is expected to get worse than it is at the moment, leading to a peak shortage in 2019.