What Skilled Trades Are in Demand for 2022?

Skilled trades are among the most in-demand roles in the UK. And as the construction industry grapples with a skills shortage and faces the looming threat of an ageing workforce, builders and tradespeople are poised to see more work in the years to come.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) forecasts that the construction industry will need to hire an additional 217,000 workers to keep up with the sector’s output, which it says is on pace to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022. 

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) reports that over the next decade, the number of construction professionals reaching pension age will outpace the number of new workers joining the industry — the last time this happened was around 50 years ago. 

Of course, all this begs the question: What skilled trades will be in the most demand? We look at a few examples based on the latest data.

1. Skilled Wood Trades

In terms of annual average recruitment requirement (ARR), the CITB predicts that the hottest trade over the next few years will be wood trades (ARR of 5,500). 

These trades, which include wood machinists, furniture finishers and cabinet makers, are responsible for building a variety of wood products, from home and office furniture to cabinetry, shelving and flooring. 

Skilled woodworkers are typically employed in the manufacturing and construction industries, although they may also be in demand in retail and other industrial sectors. 

2. Electricians

Before the pandemic, electricians were consistently among the most in-demand trades in the UK. A 2019 study by The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) and National Electrotechnical Training (NET) predicted that the UK would need as many as 15,000 additional skilled electricians before 2024. 

The good news is that the pandemic has had little to no effect on this high demand. CITB data shows that electricians or “electrical installation trades” will see an ARR of 3,400 by 2025.

3. Carpenters and Joiners

According to research from insurance comparison website Quotezone.co.uk, demand for trades jobs increased by 63% at the height of the pandemic in 2020. The best-performing skilled trade was carpentry and joinery, which saw demand increase by 66.6%.

High demand for these trades was likely driven by a boom in home improvement — a trend that continued this year. Yahoo Finance reports that Britons spent a combined £110 billion in 2021, representing a 30% year-on-year increase. 

However, the current number of carpenters and joiners may not be able to keep up with demand, with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) reporting an increase in vacancies in September this year.

4. Metal Workers

Despite its prominence in the UK’s manufacturing sector, the metalworking industry is facing a skills shortage and sluggish recruitment. According to research by power tools and accessories builder FEIN, 80% of metalworkers believe more needs to be done to encourage new workers to join the sector. Another 76% believe that the number of young people becoming metalworkers is declining year on year, while 42% assert that the industry’s future is in jeopardy if it cannot solve the ongoing skills shortage. 

These findings are consistent with Skills Training Group’s data, which shows that by 2049, there will be less than 1,000 steel erectors in the UK and less than 10,000 qualified metal plate workers and riveters.

A Career in the Trades Is Tough But Fulfilling

Even with the threat of COVID-19, demand for skilled tradespeople continues to grow — a testament to the industry’s resilience. While a career in the trades requires training and a willingness to work with your hands, it can be a rewarding experience backed by the assurance of stability and growth. 

Alex Minett

Alex Minett is the Head of Product & Markets at CHAS, the UK’s leading health and safety assessment scheme and provider of risk mitigation, compliance and supply chain management services. With a working history in the audit and management consulting industry, Alex is experienced in implementing visions and strategies. Skilled in negotiation, management, and business development, he is passionate about driving CHAS in its mission to safeguard organizations from risk in the UK.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-minett-hd2018/ ¥vstpy

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