As the UK’s construction industry gears up for unprecedented growth, projected to reach a staggering £404 billion in revenue by 2024, a closer look at the labour market reveals a pressing issue: a shortage of skilled tradespeople.

New data compiled by metals4U, the UK’s leading metal supplier, has unveiled the ten most in-demand trades for 2024, shedding light on the persisting skills gap in the construction sector.

Builders, electricians, and gas engineers emerge as the most sought-after tradespeople in the UK, with a collective 55,263 open vacancies on popular job platforms such as Indeed, Totaljobs, and Reed.

The construction trades sector as a whole faces over 80,000 job vacancies, indicating that the nationwide skills shortage is far from abating.

The top 10 most in-demand trades for 2024:

  1. Builders – 41,505 vacancies
  2. Electricians – 9,365 vacancies
  3. Gas Engineers – 7,393 vacancies
  4. Flooring Contractors – 6,081 vacancies
  5. Carpenters – 4,791 vacancies
  6. Plumbers – 4,585 vacancies
  7. Joiners – 3,865 vacancies
  8. Window Cleaners – 3,717 vacancies
  9. Painters – 2,277 vacancies
  10. Roofers – 1,618 vacancies

Interestingly, trades such as plastering, bricklaying, and tiling face less severe shortages, with fewer than 1,000 listings for each trade across job sites.

A shortage of skilled tradespeople in the construction industry

The shortage of skilled tradespeople in the construction industry is reaching unprecedented levels, and this trend is expected to persist. A recent industry report projects a need for 937,000 new workers in construction and trade industries by 2032 to meet the escalating demand. According to the Chief Executive of The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the industry is grappling with a severe skills shortage.

The study also delved into the trades most in-demand in various UK cities. Flooring contractors are highly sought after in London, while Birmingham and Liverpool face a shortage of gas engineers. Joiners are in high demand in Edinburgh and Leeds.

Paul McFadyen, Chairman at metals4U, shared insights into the potential ramifications of an industry-wide skills shortage:

“Construction, building, and metal materials have been in heavy demand in the UK over the last few years, with increased development in residential and commercial properties. The growing demand for builders and other tradespeople, coupled with a shortage of the right qualifications, is causing significant challenges. A recent FMB State of Trade survey revealed that 60% of jobs are stalled due to labour shortages, a trend expected to persist in the construction industry next year as more houses need to be built.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.