As we approach World Plumbing Day on March 11, the industry grits its teeth against the news of further skills shortages.
The Employer Skills Survey 2015, published on January 28 this year by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, gives a comprehensive picture of the UK labour market. It found that vacancies for skilled workers had grown significantly in the last two years, with a shortage of 43% in the trades. The building industry in particular was feeling ‘heightened difficulties’ in recruiting staff, with over a third of vacancies for electricians, plumbers, gas engineers and construction workers being termed as ‘skill shortage vacancies’.
This comes at a time of economic growth, especially in construction, which means the impact of this worrying situation is being felt more acutely.
CIPHE, chief executive officer, Kevin Wellman, said: “This report has highlighted a problem that has existed for a long time. Although the government is now actively promoting apprenticeships for all trades, it is playing ‘catch-up’. Too many years have passed where the younger generation were led to believe that a university education was the only way to achieve a good career.
“On top of that, many came into the industry via fast-track courses and sub-standard training, which meant they were not competent to do the job. However, times are changing with the overhaul of the apprenticeship system, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Only when we have a world class training system in place will we be able to step up to both attract and train a highly skilled workforce at the levels we now require.”