Shortage of skilled trade workers as demand for home improvements rise

Thursday 26th August 2021

Since the start of lockdown, people spending more time at home has led to an increase in the demand for trade workers as more people want new kitchens, bathrooms, and other home improvements.

With at least 80% of homeowners expected to make improvements to their homes this year, job vacancies in trades roles are soaring. However, there is a shortage of workers to fill them.

If you are looking to hire staff from overseas to fill vacancies, you will likely need to consider a Skilled Worker Visa and whether those staff will meet the application criteria. The UK Job Shortages List lowers the salary threshold for certain professions to 80% to facilitate successful Skilled Worker Visa applications in those areas. However, trades roles such as plumbers, kitchen installers, bathroom fitters and landscapers are not included, despite current shortages.

Under the usual Skilled Worker Visa, overseas trade workers from a number of professions including kitchen, window and carpet fitters can still enter the UK, but they do not benefit from the reduced salary threshold, making it more difficult for those in lower paying roles to meet the application criteria.

The Chief Executive of Checkatrade has stated that he wants more trades put on the Job Shortages List. The Home Office have said that shortages are in part due to a recent reduction in EU migration and employers should invest in UK workers instead.

If your business is facing staff shortages, it is vital to be proactive and consider solutions. It seems unlikely that the government’s Job Shortages List will be expanded any time soon, and in light of Brexit and continuing travel restrictions due to COVID-19 you may wish to focus on a long-term solution instead. An increase in training opportunities for school leavers or for those looking to retrain could help boost numbers in the coming years.

However if you wish to source new staff, either from overseas or through new training roles and apprenticeships, it is important that recruitment is carried out fairly.

If you would like to discuss this further, then please contact one of our employment experts below. To view the full August Employment Law Update, click here: