Home News & Knowledge A shortage of skilled contractors and tradespeople could hamper building programmes in Mid Wales

A shortage of skilled contractors and tradespeople could hamper building programmes in Mid Wales

A shortage of building contractors and skilled tradespeople in Mid Wales could hamper a range of residential and commercial projects, one of the region’s architects has warned.

Some planned construction projects in the area are facing delays due to many contractors already committed to work and not enough young people are being trained to take up roles such as bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing.

Doug Hughes, Managing Director and Principal Architect at Hughes Architects said the issue demonstrated the lack of training and education opportunities for young people wanting to enter a trade over the past 10 years.

He said the practice was working with some great contractors, but there just isn’t enough of them.

It comes just months after he warned that many older and listed buildings in the area were under threat due to the lack of skilled craftspeople with masonry and carpentry skills for conservation projects.

“We’re witnessing the lack of relevant courses available in the region to train people into skilled trades ranging from bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing, through to roofing and more,” said Doug who has offices in Newtown, Welshpool, and Aberystwyth."

Doug Hughes, Managing Director and Principal Architect

Working with Newtown College on new courses

“In the past there were a wide range of building and trade courses available for school leavers and others to join. Today, they’re quite limited or students are having to travel outside the area to find opportunities. This is now starting to hamper building work in the area.”

He added: “While the construction industry has been impacted by the rise in material costs which has resulted in a reduction in some housing projects, overall the industry is strong and particularly resilient since the pandemic.

"But there’s an absence of skilled tradespeople in the number needed say compared to 10 years ago.”

Mr Hughes said the issue was affecting everything from small domestic residential projects to large-scale commercial builds.

Hughes Architects is currently working with NPTC, the Newtown College, to develop new courses that are due to be launched soon.

“There’s no quick answer to this, but it does demonstrate how the reduction in available college and other courses in the region is having an impact on what is an important industry."

Skilled conservation craftspeople also needed

"Back in the summer, we warned of a similar situation with people with conservation building skills, such as masonry and carpentry.

“The situation is escalating and something needs to be done to ensure we have a flow of skilled people coming through in the area.”

It comes as a report recently highlighted many young people were no longer entering the trade. Check A Trade said the UK need to find around one million skilled tradespeople by 2032 to fill a skills gap.

Doug added: “I’ve spoken to several contractors who are unable to take on apprentices locally as they have to be able to sign on to a relevant college course. But many of those courses are simply not available in the area or are prohibitive to join because they are so far away.

“On the flip side, I understand many young people who are on a relevant course are being told they can only continue an apprenticeship if they have an employer and in some cases it’s chicken and egg and they cannot find someone close to them willing to take them on.”

Doug has called on the Welsh and UK governments to address the problem. “If we don’t address this soon the issues we have now will only get worse and we’ll struggle to get many projects off the ground.”