Plumbing and heating engineers in decline

A new report released by Skills Training Group has revealed that the number of people entering the plumbing and heating industry has declined by 4.19% from 157,400 to 150,800 over the last 16 years. The Trade Trends Report 2021 has analysed 16 years worth of data from the Office for National Statistics to assess the state of the UK workforce and shows that plumbing is one of a number of key trades declining in numbers, including bricklayers & masons (by 35.30% – 105,100 to 68,000) and painters and decorators (by 17.80% – 138,200 -to 113,600).

Using the data, the team at Skills Training Group were able to forecast what the future may look like for these trades if the average decline continues. Based on current numbers, it is predicted that by 2049 workers in the plumbing and heating trade could fall to 132,614 – a drop of 15.75%.

Commenting on the research and why young people may be the key to turning the tide for these industries, Mark McShane, managing director at Skills Training Group, says: “For many industries, young people entering the workforce early in their careers means they can learn the craft and make it a long term career – with many being business owners by the time they are 30. But, in order to encourage young people to make these choices, businesses in the industry need to engage with young people, sharing their success stories to encourage a new workforce.

“While many young people may enter into a skilled trade through college and apprenticeships, a missed opportunity may be those that have opted to continue studying for A-Levels. For these students, the general direction is to head off to university, so it’s no surprise that many may not have even considered a career in specific trades – this is where recruitment outside of the usual routes can prove fruitful.

“Communication and marketing needs to be a big part of each of the different industry’s goals. To attract and recruit new talent to the industry, its image needs to adapt as well. Companies and industries that make noise, engage with social media and shout about what makes their trades great will see the tide change in the amount of people wanting a job.”

It’s not all bad for every trade, the data also shows that between 2004 and 2020 some trades thrived. Roofers, roof tilers and slaters increased by 14.06%, while gardeners and landscape gardeners increased by 23.9%. and farmers (28.64%). 

Read the full report and insights from it here –

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