Would you encourage your kids into a skilled trade?

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Once upon a time, it seemed that most parents hoped their children would become doctors, dentists, or lawyers. These were seen as impressive “professional” careers - but it seems times are changing.

Long working hours, work life balance and the progression of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the workplace are all contributing factors to making these most desirable careers appear, well, less so.

Here at MyBuilder.com, we know how amazing working in a trade can be, and we’ve also conducted research that shows that our tradespeople think that, too. And yet, despite this, there is a concerning shortage of young people heading into a career in skilled trades.

We decided to do some more research looking at whether the development of AI had changed parents’ perceptions of what jobs would be their preference for their children. The results are in - and they are interesting!

Close to a fifth of all parents surveyed would choose a career in skilled trades for their children, making it the most desired profession amongst a variety of occupations.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.

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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%

The age of parents asked showed an interesting split in opinion, as the younger demographic was the keenest to see their children with a career in skilled trades. Close to a fifth (18%) of parents aged 18-34 said they would choose trades, whereas only 13 percent of parents aged 35-54 would choose this route. The figure rose again in the over 55s age group, with 15 percent stating a role in the trades would be their hope for their offspring.

The results could not come at a better time, as statistics show the skills shortage within the construction industry. Despite the fact that this shortage continues to widen, the trades are still not being pushed enough as a career option. Many young people instead are funnelled into further academic education - and even degrees - even if this is not the best option for them. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has recently spoken out on this issue, warning that many students are being “ripped off” with bad degrees.

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MyBuilder also spoke to several tradespeople who use their platform to find clients, to better understand their route to entry and where their career path has taken them.

Scott and Frank McBride are a father and son team who work as plasterers. Scott said that he believes younger people are not always aware of the opportunities a career in skilled trades offer.

“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.”

Frank said: “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.”

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Dan Chaney, a local carpenter, 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.”

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Diana Montador, VP of Customer Insights at MyBuilder.com said: “Our data shows that a career in the trades is something parents would encourage their children to consider - which could not come at a better time. 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 skilled trades for their children and we welcome any efforts to raise the profile of the industry to young people.”


 

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