From education to employment

New year expected to bring boom in people switching careers, experts say

The new year is set to bring a boom in the number of people switching careers and retraining in traditional trades, industry experts say.

With the cost of living crisis leaving many households feeling the pinch, some will be looking to ditch the desk job and look to pursue a hands-on trade that stands the test of time.

Bosses at Engineering Real Results (ERR) say they have seen a rise in the number of people in their 50s opting to pursue roles such as plumbers and gas engineers, and expect the trend to continue going into 2024.

Director Ricky Sharma said:

“At the moment we can’t keep up with filling the gaps in industries such as plumbing and renewable energy.

“Traditionally our students have been in their 20s and 30s but we have seen a real shift in people looking to change careers later in life. We now have lots of students in their 40s and 50s.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were around 988,000 job vacancies across all industries in the period July to September this year. This included 35,000 unfilled roles in construction.

Data from the UK Trade Skills Index 2023, commissioned by Checkatrade, revealed more than 73,000 plumbers would be required by 2032.

According to jobs site Indeed, the average salary for a gas engineer in England is £39,728.

For a plumber it’s around £33,500.

Mark Ingram, technical gas and plumbing tutor at ERR, says the labour gap is a real opportunity for people to step into careers they may have never previously considered.

Mr Ingram continued:

“There will always be a demand for careers in things like plumbing and renewable energy, and at the moment we can’t keep up with filling the gaps that are out there.

“Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty it’s a really good time to ask yourself if you enjoy what you do, and if you can see a long term future in it.

“Even if you’re a little older it’s never too late to find a new passion. A lot of our more mature students had careers where they were stuck behind a desk and are now looking for new ones where they can be more hands-on.

“Jobs in industries such as plumbing have salaries that are stable and rising, so it’s no surprise they are obvious choices.”

Engineering Real Results (ERR) specialises in providing trades skills and training. It places students at development sites where they can work on live projects to further their experience and gain NVQ qualifications.

It has training centres up and down the country including Yorkshire, Southampton, Wolverhampton, Hertfordshire and Essex.

For more information, visit

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