Plumber with their head under a white bathroom basin.

Given how vital plumbers’ skill sets are to our everyday lives, those working in the profession have generally been able to take advantage of consistent demand for work. 

Without plumbers, our homes wouldn’t have working showers, sinks or toilets and with these things unlikely to be disappearing anytime soon, it’s probably safe to assume that the demand for plumbers will also be sticking around for a long while.

But what does the industry look like for those who are just entering it for the first time? Are there still high numbers of plumbing vacancies that need filling? Below we’ll take a look at the current state of the plumbing industry in terms of job demand and prospects. 

Vacancies hit record highs

According to the new UK Trade Skills Index for 2023, there is an ‘alarming’ skills gap currently impacting the construction sector, with plumbing being one of the trades most affected. 

The index, which has been commissioned by Checkatrade and compiled by independent macro-economic research firm Capital Economics, found that nearly one million new recruits are needed across all trades to keep pace with demand. Of this total figure, an estimated 73,700 new plumbers are needed by 2032.

The UK has seen a sharp rise in construction skills shortages and in the three months leading up to October 2022, vacancies per 100 jobs reached a record high of 3.4. 

What is causing the skills shortage?

The new report highlights a combination of an ageing workforce, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis as key contributing factors to the issue.

Of the current construction workforce, 35% are aged over 50, while the number of EU workers that have traditionally represented a larger portion of the UK construction workforce has been down 8.6% (198,000 workers) since 2019.

Richard Harpin, the founder of HomeServe which acquired Checkatrade in 2017, described the figures as “urgent and alarming” (via CIPHE)

 “The figures revealed in our UK Trade Skills Index 2023 report should come as a wakeup call to everyone involved in the trade and construction industry, with plumbers in particular in big demand, not just now but for the next decade.

Although we expect the economy to continue to be squeezed in 2023, the construction sector is finding itself in an increasingly alarming situation caused by Brexit, an ageing workforce and the cost-of-living crisis. Combined, this is creating a perfect storm in the industry, and causing a widening skills gap, which we must address."

What is the annual salary of a plumber? 

According to Indeed’s latest data, the average salary of a UK plumber is £31,472. 

Recent data from Hudson Contract also found that self-employed plumbers’ average pay throughout 2022 was 8.5% higher than the year prior