This week, millions of British teenagers will be planning their future after receiving their GCSE exam results. While some will be heading onto further academic study, many will be considering more immediate career options.
MyBuilder.com, a platform that matches reliable tradespeople to homeowners, spoke to several tradespeople who use their service, to better understand their route to entry and where their career path has taken them.
It comes at an opportune time, as Britain faces a serious trades shortage, as outlined in the 2023 UK Trade Skills Index. Despite the fact that this shortage continues to widen, the trades are still not being pushed enough as a career option.
Scott and Frank McBride are a father and son team who work as plasterers. Scott, 50, said that he believes younger people are not always aware of the opportunities a career in trades offers.
“When I was 16, I knew plenty of older boys who had gone into trades and they had cars, nice houses – it was really aspirational to work in trades. I started an apprenticeship at 16, and by 23 was in a position to offer to buy my parents’ house!
“My son followed me into plastering as he already knew the path it could take him on. He also took an apprenticeship and now works alongside me, and he’s never looked back. But if he hadn’t had a father who worked successfully in trades, I’m not sure if he’d have taken that route as it doesn’t seem to be promoted as an option in schools – they seem keener to push kids into further academic studies, regardless of whether that’s the right route for them.”
“I knew I wanted to work in trades as I had seen first hand the potential that career offers. But they didn’t really push it at school, and I might have ended up missing out if I hadn’t had family in the job.
“It’s so flexible to work in trades – you can work for a company or go self employed and there’s always an opportunity to work extra if you want to. It’s good money and even now in my early 20s I’m able to save for the future.”
Carpenter Dan Chaney began an apprenticeship after a labourer friend suggested it. “School never pushed the idea of apprenticeships, even though I was not a great candidate for A Levels and beyond. There needs to be more education for young people about the opportunities of a career in trades – particularly in helping them see beyond the few years of low pay during an apprenticeship. It’s a means to an end, and after it’s completed the potential is endless.”
A career in trades is also increasingly popular among parents. More than 15 percent of parents would choose a career in the trades for their children, making it the most desired profession amongst a variety of occupations, according to new research.
The statistics come from a survey commissioned by MyBuilder.com, which asked parents to state which profession they would most like to see their children choose. Those careers long accepted as desirable professions, such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and lawyers, were not as popular as a career in trades, including electricians, carpenters, builders, and plumbers. In light of the progression of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace – which could be seen as a threat to many job roles in the future – trades are increasingly seen as a safe industry.
A role within the trades was chosen by 15 percent of parents, while the second choice was a career as a medical doctor at 12 percent, or working in IT, also with 12 percent of votes. Accountancy and law both received eight percent of the vote . Teaching gained seven percent with dentistry at six percent. A career in the Emergency Services received four percent of the vote, alongside Marketing, Sales and Social Influencer.
The full list of most popular careers selected
- Tradesperson 15% (Electrician, Builder, Plumber Or Carpenter)
- Doctor 12%
- Software Developer 12%
- Web Developer 10%
- Lawyer / Legal 8%
- Accountant / Finance 8%
- Teaching 7%
- Veterinarian 7%
- Investment / Banking 6%
- Dentist 6%
- Social Media Influencer 4%
- Marketing / Advertising 4%
- Sales 4%
- Emergency Services 4%
- Fitness / Personal Trainer 3%
Diana Montador, VP of Customer Insights at MyBuilder.com said:
“It’s interesting to learn about the career paths of our customers, and they showcase how successful a career in the trades can be.
“It’s been obvious for many years that there is a serious shortage of skilled trades in this country. The 2023 UK Trade Skills Index confirms how large the skills gap is within the construction industry, with hundreds of thousands of new recruits needed by 2032. What’s most concerning is that this shortage continues to rise.
“Our data shows that parents are now seeing the appeal of a career in trades for their children and we welcome any efforts to raise the profile of the industry to young people.”