Starting Afresh: Why So Many People Want To Switch Careers To A Trade Profession

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For insights on the biggest trends in renovation and home improvement, take a look at the Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report 2023

Over the past couple of years, more and more people have reevaluated their jobs and careers. Quiet quitting has gathered momentum and ‘The Great Resignation’ has seen record numbers of people switch careers. In fact, Google searches for ‘careers switch’ have risen by 38% in the last two years and in 2023, one in three people in the UK now say they’d be interested in changing their career.

This year’s edition of the Rated People Home Improvement Trends Report reveals one in five people in the UK are interested in changing jobs to work as a tradesperson and we can understand why! There are lots of benefits and opportunities available in the industry including high earnings, low stress and a strong work-life balance.

The construction industry is currently experiencing a severe skills shortage though which has been brought about by Brexit, a lack of young people getting into trade careers and also wider economic and political issues. So demand for new tradespeople, from carpenters and electricians to painters and plasterers, has never been higher.

At Rated People, we’re passionate about helping more people work in the industry, so here we explore why lots of people are now waking up to the advantages of a career in construction and where the biggest opportunities are in 2023 if you’re looking to make a change. With 60% of trade businesses looking to hire and expand their workforce in 2023, it’s a great time to get into the industry.

You can skip ahead to different sections here:

The Professions People Want To Switch To This Year

The Opportunities Of A Trade Career

Why Now Is A Great Time To Start Working As A Tradesperson

Picture of two plumbers working together to install a radiator

The Professions People Want To Switch To This Year

We spoke to thousands of people across the UK and discovered 32% are interested in switching careers this year. Looking at which professions they would be most keen to switch to, trade professions, from bathroom fitters and gardeners to roofers and heating engineers, were the most popular choice, beating banking, computing and education.

Top 10 careers people want to switch to in 2023

Rank Career % of career switchers who would choose this career
1 A trade profession – for example carpenter, electrician, joiner, kitchen fitter, builder 16%
2 Financial services – for example banker, financial advisor, accountant 14%
3 Retail and customer services 12%
4 Property – for example estate agent, architect, surveyor, planning officer, mortgage advisor 12%
5 Computing and ICT 12%
6 Animal care – for example vet, dog groomer, dog walker 11%
7 Education – for example teacher, university lecturer 11%
8 Government 11%
9 Hospitality and tourism 10%
10 Sport and leisure – for example sports player, sports trainer, sports physiotherapist 10%
Picture of a carpenter using power tools

Biggest Benefits of Working As A Tradesperson

We also spoke to hundreds of tradespeople up and down the country and discovered that one in three had switched from another career to work in the trades. Almost two in three went on to say they now make more money working as a tradesperson than they did in their previous job.

But it’s not just about the money. Nine in 10 of the tradespeople we interviewed said they love their trade career, feel happy at work and feel motivated by their job. Almost two in three also went on to say they don’t feel stressed at work either. The many benefits result in almost 90% of tradespeople saying they think more young people should consider a career in the trades, so we dug a little deeper to reveal the biggest benefits.

Top five reasons why tradespeople love their job

Rank Benefit % of UK tradespeople who said this was why they love their job
1 I’m my own boss 78%
2 I’m in control of the work I do 62%
3 Flexible working 54%
4 My work has real value 33%
5 My work delivers real benefits to people 33%
Picture of a female tradesperson in a white hard hat carrying planks of wood

How Much Money You Can Earn As A Tradesperson

We spoke to sole traders about how much they earn and the results illustrate how lucrative the industry is.

On average, sole traders are making PS43,561 a year, which is a considerable amount more than the national annual average of PS27,756 (almost PS16,000 more).

One in four of the sole traders we spoke to said they make more than PS50,000 a year and 10% make over PS75,000.

If this sounds attractive to you, starting to train up as a tradesperson – whether that’s on the job, through an apprenticeship or with formal training, could be a great way to get a better work-life balance and earn more money.

Picture of a locksmith installing a lock

The Trades That Will Be Most In Demand in 2023

If you’re interested in switching careers to work in a trade and would like to know where the biggest opportunities are in the industry, we analysed our internal data to see which trades have seen the biggest rise in demand over the past two years.

Locksmiths top the table, with an 87% increase in demand since 2020. Kitchen specialists, roofers, plumbers and painters/decorators also feature in the top 10.

Top 10 trades that saw the biggest rise in demand in 2022 compared to 2020

Rank Trade % increase in demand on Ratedpeople.com
1 Locksmith +87%
2 Driveway paver +66%
3 Stoneworker/ stonemason +53%
4 Cleaner +46%
5 Painter/ decorator +46%
6 Bathroom fitter +44%
7 Kitchen specialist +42%
8 Roofer +39%
9 Plumber +36%
10 Specialist tradesperson +35%

The trades industry has seen huge growth over the past few years as more people look to improve their homes. The vast majority of tradespeople say demand is still strong and seven in 10 say they are ‘very busy’ in 2023. These are the trades that are the busiest this year.

Top 10 trades that are ‘very busy’ in 2023

Rank Trade % of trade who are ‘very busy’ in 2023
1 Bathroom fitter 75%
2 Roofer 67%
3 Handyperson 67%
4 Electrician 65%
5 Painter/ decorator 60%
6 Carpenter/ joiner 50%
7 Plumber 50%
8 Plasterer/ renderer 50%
9 Tiler 50%
10 Gas/heating engineer 46%
Oicture of two pairs of hands installing a wall-hung toilet to a bathroom wall

The Industry Has A Skills Shortage

Although there are amazing opportunities, the industry is currently experiencing workforce shortages across all trades. In 2022, 57% of UK trade businesses said they experienced workforce shortages and in 2023 this increases further to nearly two thirds (63%).

One of the key reasons behind the skills gap is Brexit, with many trade workers having to leave the country. Fewer young people are also getting into the industry, which is contributing to a lack of skilled workers in trade professions. Shockingly, our research reveals 48% of UK adults say they weren’t offered a trade career as a job option in careers advice at school and we want this to change.

While the industry is appealing to many people who want to switch careers, we’re also on a mission to promote the industry to more young people. Working in construction offers high earning potential, great work-life balance and also a way to avoid the student debt that so many people get landed with when they go to university.

The Trades Most Affected By Workforce Shortages

Looking at the trades that are affected by shortages, we can reveal the sectors that are crying out for new talent the most.

More than nine in 10 plasterer/renderer businesses say they couldn’t find enough workers in 2022 and at least half of all businesses in bathroom fitting, painting/ decorating, gardening, building and handyperson roles also experienced workforce shortages in 2022.

Top 10 trades that experienced workforce shortages the most in 2022

Rank Trade % of trade that experienced workforce shortages in 2022
1 Plasterer/renderer 93%
2 Handyperson 89%
3 Builder 68%
4 Gardener/ landscape gardener 64%
5 Painter/ decorator 53%
6 Bathroom fitter 50%
7 Electrician 49%
8 Roofer 48%
9 Plumber 38%
10 Carpenter/ joiner 33%
Picture of a garden landscaper installing a roll of grass onto lawn

Rise In Trade Training Enrolments

The Government is currently pushing to get more young people onto ‘T Levels’ and Access Training saw a 40% increase in Trade Training Enrolments in 2022, which could suggest the tide is starting to turn. The four most popular courses are: electrical, gas, plumbing, and carpentry.

When it comes to the trade apprenticeships that people are most interested in, we analysed Google data to see which ones were being Googled the most.

Tallying with Access Training’s popular training courses, people in the UK are most interested in apprenticeships to become an electrician. Plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying and joinery are also hugely popular, pulling in between 30,000 and 93,000 searches on Google a year.

Top 10 most popular trade apprenticeships

Rank Apprenticeship Number of Google searches a year
1 Electrician 223,500
2 Plumber 93,600
3 Carpenter 53,500
4 Bricklayer 47,900
5 Joiner 33,400
6 Plasterer 12,200
7 Builder 11,130
8 Gardener 9,060
9 Gas 6,480
10 Tree surgeon 5,290

For more insights about home improvements and renovations, download the full 2023 report here.