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Figures show worrying fall in working skilled tradesmen

A new survey has revealed that Britain is facing a critical shortage of skilled tradesmen across a number of fields – with the numbers of working plumbers and bricklayers seeing a particularly sharp fall in recent years.

Figures from the UK’s biggest small business insurance provider, Simply Business, showed that there has been a 25 per cent fall in the number of independent plumbers over the last four years, with bricklayers seeing a 19 per cent fall in numbers and joiners seeing a 17 per cent fall in numbers.

Simply Business’s Jason Stockwood said that construction professionals – particularly independent ones – had been particularly hard hit by the effects of the recession and the economic crisis, leading many of them to find work elsewhere. He explained that this could leave a worrying skills gap when the market does pick up again.

“Independent tradesmen provide a vital, often highly-skilled service to both home owners and the commercial industry,” Stockwood said. “It is therefore worrying to see a decline in some trades over recent years, as the slow economy has hit spending on infrastructure and home improvements.

“While there are still thousands of talented tradesmen doing a fantastic job across the country, investment is needed to ensure there is enough work to keep them all afloat.”

Simply Business drew its figures from more than 300,000 small businesses. The numbers showed that the only small businesses that did not buck the trend of falling numbers were independent cleaners, chimney sweeps and female-run businesses.

Female-run construction businesses are experiencing particularly noticeable demand, with the number of female-led bricklaying companies rising by 16 per cent, over the last four years, female-run window cleaning companies rising by 10 per cent, and painting and decorating businesses owned by women seeing a 5 per cent rise.