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Japa: Shortage of bricklayers, roofers, carpenters hits UK

The United Kingdom, UK is grappling with a shortage of bricklayers and other construction workers, causing prolonged delays for homeowners seeking building services.

Since 2021, a staggering 415,000 people have experienced over a year-long wait to secure a builder, according to a national construction audit by Fix Radio.

The shortage extends beyond builders, with 301,000 households waiting a year for plumbers and heating engineers, 294,000 for roofers, and 274,000 for carpenters.

On average, the wait for a bricklayer over the past three years has exceeded three months, while landscapers, painters, and decorators have left customers waiting for two and a half months, per report from Daily Mail UK.

Industry experts highlight the severe impact of this skills shortage on major projects, including delays in completing the Co-op Live venue in Manchester.

To meet rising demand, an additional 225,000 skilled workers are to be needed by 2027 with economic repercussions significant as the UK is projected to miss out on £98 billion of growth by 2030 due to the skills gap.

The ageing workforce exacerbates the issue, with a fifth of construction workers now over 50 and a third planning to retire by 2030.

The Construction Industry Training Board’s Construction Skills Network estimates nearly one million tradespeople will retire in the next decade.

While migrant labour has somewhat mitigated the shortages, there is an urgent need to train more British workers.

Last year, bricklayers, plasterers, roofers, and carpenters were added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list to address the deficit.

UK government initiatives aim to alleviate the problem, including cracking down on non-vocational university degrees and funding 100,000 apprenticeships. Both Labour and Conservative parties have focused on construction in their General Election campaigns, with Labour proposing new towns and Rishi Sunak promising to build hundreds of thousands of homes in major cities.

Clive Holland of Fix Radio emphasized the critical need for more builders, warning, “If political parties, irrespective of their stripe or colour, honestly believe they can address the housing crisis without having the serious conversation of addressing the skills deficit, we’re heading into a very dangerous position.”

A Fix Radio survey revealed that two-thirds of Britons felt insufficiently encouraged to pursue trades in school, and 18% of parents discouraged their children from entering the construction industry due to perceived low earnings.

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