​If there was just one word to describe conditions for the trades industry over the past few years, it would be ‘challenging’. And perhaps that is a polite way of putting it, because the Covid-19 and post-pandemic eras have been by any standards, extremely difficult.

As we know, there were thousands upon thousands of lay-offs and a total shutdown in the construction industry when the pandemic struck. After that, the sector’s struggle to get back on its feet has been made more difficult by a severe recruitment shortage, partly driven by post-Brexit changes to employment laws and partly because potential recruits have looked elsewhere for jobs. The growing number of vacancies for builders and other skilled tradespeople, combined with a shortage of the right qualifications, is causing major issues in the UK job market. According to a recent FMB State of Trade survey, 60% of jobs are stalled due to labour shortages, and this is expected to continue in the construction industry as more houses need to be built.

As a result, there are still many more vacancies than there are people to fill them, and as we go into 2024 this will continue to be a challenge for construction firms and recruiters. However, after a few years of sluggishness, the UK construction industry is set to grow significantly in 2024. Both the commercial and residential sectors are expected to show considerable green shoots of recovery later in the year, and while we can’t factor in unpredictable world events, there are definite signs of optimism on the horizon, particularly with the potential for young people to fill the skills gap in the industry.

What does this mean for construction trade recruitment?

If there is to be an upturn in building work, this is good news for anyone wanting to join the industry as a new recruit, or to re-enter following a period away. The number of job vacancies in the industry is, according to estimates, somewhere around the 150,000 mark and it is thought that no less than almost a million new construction workers will be needed by 2032 to meet growth forecasts. This highlights the high demand for skilled new workers in the construction trades sector and the need for effective recruitment strategies.

Why would I consider a career in the construction trades?

A career in construction is packed full of advantages. The current shortage of recruits means there will be good money and job security, plus opportunities for career development for those interested in becoming site managers. It’s a sociable job, too, and working outdoors has its advantages in terms of staying fit and feeling generally healthy – although wet and cold winters can be a challenge! If you’ve finished studying or you’re interested in a change of career, a position in construction is a great option for those who want to be their own boss.

Let’s now look at some of the most sought-after trades jobs in the construction industry for 2024…

1. Bricklayer

Bricklaying has been a specialist trade for at least two thousand years, and while many on-site jobs have some level of mechanisation, the art of laying bricks still relies wholly on human skill. Bricklayers work on both commercial and residential building sites, along with home extensions and in gardens. The ‘brickie’ needs a careful eye to lay bricks straight and level, using power tools to shape the bricks as required. The average UK wage for a bricklayer is around £30,000 a year.

2. Electrician

The role of the electrician is one of the most responsible on the site. Electricians instal, test, repair and assess electrical fixtures and equipment, using their knowledge and skill to work in often complex environments, for example high rise buildings or large offices. With electricity, safety is paramount so qualified electricians must be expert in making sure that whatever work they carry out is 100 per cent reliable. The electrician must also be a competent problem-solver, able to assess and repair electrical problems both residentially and as part of a construction team. The average UK wage for an electrician is £34,000 a year.

3. Plumber

The plumber works on both residential and commercial building sites to instal water, heating and drainage systems. Like the electrician, the work of a plumber can be complex and demanding, requiring a high degree of problem-solving skills to instal functioning systems in challenging locations. The plumber needs to have knowledge of maths to instal precision parts and must also be skilled in the use of a variety of tools. The average UK wage for a plumber is £32,000.

4. Carpenter

Like bricklayers, carpenters have a history that is as old as construction itself. Carpentry needs both technical and physical skills, and a deep knowledge of different woods and their various uses. Carpentry is as much a craft as a trade job, and carpenters can be making beautiful and bespoke items of furniture as well as creating structures for the building of houses. As with plumbers, skill with maths is needed to make precision measurements, as well as capability with a wide variety of tools. The average UK wage for a carpenter is £38,000 per year.

5. Scaffolder

Scaffolders are responsible for creating the structures which give other tradespeople access to buildings under construction. Scaffolding is needed for construction work that is taking place at a minimum of six feet from the ground, and this can range from small residential projects to multi-storey high-rise offices and other commercial buildings. Keeping construction staff out of danger on building sites is a cornerstone of Health and Safety laws, so scaffolders need to be highly accurate and safety-conscious at all times. They also need to be physically strong, as they will be unpacking, re-packing and carrying heavy steel poles around all day.

These are just a handful of the many trades jobs that will be in demand in 2024. As a recruitment agency that specialises in placing the best candidates in prime construction positions, we’re always on the hunt for new talent. If you’re looking for your next profession, whether it’s a temporary, fixed-term, or permanent position, or if you require skilled, experienced, and reliable operatives, PPR Recruitment is your one-stop solution. View our current vacancies here. If you’re interested in being a recruitment agent for PPR, give one of our knowledgeable and friendly recruitment experts a call on 01895 808188 for further information. Alternatively, contact us online or send an email to