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Government needs drastic action to ease skills shortage crisis

Tradesperson champion is calling on the next Government to encourage young people to consider a career in the skilled trades – as the UK faces a crisis due to 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 option – despite 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.