Australia wants our plumbers ! It seems they are one of the professions on its wanted list as it raises its annual target figure for skilled workers coming into the country.

So why are our plumbers in such demand?"It's very indicative of how the economy is doing because demand for plumbing services rises when the economy is doing well," says Peter Wright, an associate professor in labour economics at Nottingham University's Globalisation and Economic Policy Centre (GEP)."Most people's perception of plumbers is that they are people they ring when they have a leak, but many are employed in the housing sector.

"The recent shortage in the supply of plumbers in the UK was partly due to the expansion of higher education which drew people away from skilled trades, he says. Apprenticeship schemes became less prevalent and there was a lag before higher education colleges stepped into the role.

"Demand for apprenticeships rose rapidly during the late 1990s with the booming economy. As people became wealthier, they spent money on their houses and there was increased house-building."

Australia is probably undergoing the same experience, he adds.