Tradesperson champion calling on next Government to encourage careers in skilled trades

Tradesperson champion calling on next Government to encourage careers in skilled trades

Tradesperson champion calls for promotion of skilled trades as a career – as the construction industry faces skills shortages

GCSE exam season is well underway and young Brits are considering their next steps. Many students are currently encouraged by schools to head into further education and university rather than considering trades as a viable – and lucrative – career prospect.

Currently, the trades are not promoted as an optiondespite the fact that there is a pressing need for more skilled workers, while other professions may be threatened by the rise of AI. 

This can lead to many young people choosing to study non-vocational subjects at university, racking up crippling debts, and then struggling to find jobs in their 20s after obtaining a degree. Many who do find work discover that their degree is not relevant to their job, but still have to pay off their debts for decades to come. The Student Loans Company statistics suggest that the average UK student leaves with close to £45,000 worth of debt. During the last King’s Speech, King Charles acknowledged this issue, highlighting that the Government must focus on implementing proposals to: “reduce the number of young people studying poor quality university degrees and increase the number undertaking high-quality apprenticeships. 

Recent research revealed that only one in ten (13 percent) students had been told about the skilled trades as a potential career choice. This is despite the fact that the UK is facing a nationwide trades shortage, predicted to cost the UK economy £98bn in missed GDP growth opportunities by 2030. Research from, the reliable way to hire tradespeople, also showed that many parents are recognising the opportunity in this industry, with 15 per cent of parents stating they would like their children to be in a skilled trade – making this the most desirable choice over occupations such as doctors, dentists, or lawyers.

Meanwhile, those studying a trade can often be established by their early 20s, fully qualified, and earning a good wage. They also rarely have significant student debt due to obtaining apprenticeships and learning on the job. Salaries range depending on the trade but are generally comparable to many managerial positions and offer the potential to offer six figures should the tradesperson be self-employed. In fact, entry-level roles post-qualification are often highly paid and can exceed the salary for those jobs that are traditionally seen as well-paid. 

Graduate salaries:

  • Banking £29,755 
  • Marketing £29,715 
  • Education & Teaching £22,700 
  • Public Sector £25,988 
  • Accounting £27,460 
  • Engineering £27,920 
  • Sales £28,140 
  • Computing & IT £28,146 
  • Entry-level Plumber £28,533 
  • Entry-level Electrician £29,999 
  • Entry-level Landscaper £23,000 
  • Entry-level Carpenter £29,539 

Andy Simms from, said that it was time for working in trades to be seen as the desirable career choice that it is. 

“There are so many reasons that our tradespeople love their careers. Job security is likely to be assured for them with the current shortfall in skilled trades, predicted to reach 250,000 by 2030.

“It’s also not threatened by the rise of artificial intelligence, allows you to begin earning as soon as you begin – and by your mid-20s you can be making significant money without any student debt.

“Working in the skilled trades gives great opportunities to be self-employed, which although can be very hard work, can offer flexible working hours and a fantastic work/life balance.

“While university is of course a fantastic choice for some, it’s not a perfect fit for others, and it’s time the Government guided schools to be promoting the trades as an exciting and impressive career choice.”

Father-and-son team Scott and Frank McBride are plasterers with Scott said that he believes younger people are not always aware of the opportunities a career in trades offers. 

“When I was 16, I knew plenty of older boys who had gone into trades and they had cars and nice houses – it was really aspirational to work in trades. I started an apprenticeship at 16, and by 23 was in a position to offer to buy my parents’ house!

“My son followed me into plastering as he already knew the path it could take him on. He also took an apprenticeship and now works alongside me, and he’s never looked back. If he hadn’t had a father who worked successfully in trades, I’m not sure if he’d have taken that route as it doesn’t seem to be promoted as an option in schools – they seem keener to push kids into further academic studies, regardless of whether that’s the right route for them.”

Frank said: “I knew I wanted to work in trades as I had seen first-hand the potential that career offers. But they didn’t really push it at school, and I might have ended up missing out if I hadn’t had family in the job.

“It’s so flexible to work in trades – you can work for a company or go self-employed and there’s always an opportunity to work extra if you want to. It’s good money and even now in my early 20s I’m able to save for the future.”

Dan Chaney, a carpenter with, began an apprenticeship after a labourer friend suggested it.

“School never pushed the idea of apprenticeships, even though I was not a great candidate for A Levels and beyond. There needs to be more education for young people about the opportunities of a career in trades – particularly in helping them see beyond the few years of low pay during an apprenticeship. It’s a means to an end, and after it’s completed the potential is endless.” 

Chanelle Taylor, a painter with, said that her career has allowed her to be flexible with her hours, while proving to be extremely lucrative. 

“I think more women should consider working in this industry. Women often have a great eye for detail and flair, so they’re perfect for this career. It also allows great flexibility and you can work the hours you want – I am so busy now I can turn away work if it’s not right for me. 

“I’d certainly encourage young people to consider painting and decorating as a career choice. There are so many benefits – flexible working hours, good pay, and a great work/life balance. It’s also so satisfying to see a space transformed by your work – it’s a great feeling!”

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