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2024 predictions: 6 things tradespeople need to know

3-minute read

Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones

21 December 2023

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Materials shortages, a lack of skilled workers, and a drop in productivity defined 2023 for tradespeople in the UK.

With the government's ambitions to reach net zero and new housing targets relying heavily on tradespeople, will the new year spark a sense of urgency to solve the industry’s most pressing issues? Or will the same problems persist?

As we look ahead to 2024, we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Will the skilled worker shortage ease?

1. Will the skilled worker shortage ease?

A lack of skilled workers is an industry-wide issue that’s affected productivity across the country. It’s estimated that the UK could lose out on £98 billion in growth by 2030 if something isn’t done to solve the shortage.

According to a recent study, the three trades expected to experience the biggest shortfall in workers by 2030 are:

  • electricians
  • carpenters and joiners
  • plumbing and heating engineers

As part of a plan to boost construction, the government relaxed the rules for foreign workers applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, making it easier for UK employers to hire from abroad. Visa restrictions were eased in August 2023, meaning the labour shortage could improve throughout 2024 as employers make the most of the rule changes.

But is this enough to solve the shortage?

Recent research from Kingfisher highlights a deeper issue that’s contributing to the skills shortage – not enough young people are considering a career as a tradesperson. Combined with an ageing workforce across the industry, solving this issue is just as important as the immediate labour shortage.

Keep an eye out for government initiatives like apprenticeships or grants in 2024 to get more young people interested in a career in the trades.

2. General election to spark new construction jobs?

A general election is very likely to happen in 2024 and could bring about significant change for all small businesses.

The government’s approach to net zero targets focuses on upgrading the energy efficiency of homes, with key initiatives such as The Great British Insulation Scheme and the boiler upgrade scheme.

As election campaigning gets underway, we could see more schemes like this discussed in 2024 – and tradespeople will be crucial to rolling these out.

3. Will the price of building materials fall?

Since the pandemic, materials shortages have been an ongoing issue for the construction industry. Shortages of timber, bricks, sand, and steel have caused disruption to jobs for many in the trades.

Shortages caused the price of these materials to rise significantly in recent years but there are signs that this could change in 2024.

A recent report from the Department for Business and Trade, Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components, shows that the price of materials has been decreasing each month since July 2023.

It’s interesting to note that prices haven’t dropped because more materials are available, but because the demand for them has been lower.

The landscape for supply, demand, and cost of materials looks to remain complicated in 2024. Prices of the materials could continue to fall because of a lack of new construction jobs, but shortages of in-demand materials may continue too.

4. Will tradespeoples’ earnings continue to rise?

During 2022 the average tradesperson’s revenue increased by 22 per cent, reaching £82,821.

The top earning trades for 2022 were builders, groundworkers, and glazers, with Cheltenham, Harrow and Romford named as the towns where tradespeople earned the most.

Of course, higher turnover doesn’t always mean higher profit and rising business costs have forced many tradespeople to increase their prices.

Although the cost of some building materials has stabilised, ongoing shortages and labour shortfalls could push up prices for tradespeople. This, combined with strong demand from customers, could see annual revenues for those in the trades rise once more in 2024.

5. Reducing late payment to remain a priority

UK businesses are owed an estimated £32.1 billion in late payments, according to Simply Business research.

As a part of the Cash Flow and Prompt Payment review, the government has laid out plans that include better payment reporting and improved powers to the Small Business Commissioner.

This strategy could evolve in 2024, with Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch saying the government is working towards an “improved payment culture” for small businesses.

6. More electric vehicles on the way?

Following the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in August 2023, and with plans for more clean air zones across the UK, there could be increased demand for electric vehicles in 2024.

The government is also planning to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2035, although this was recently pushed back by five years from 2030.

Our survey of 250 van owners found that growth in ownership of electric vehicles is slow but could be growing. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) told us they’re planning to switch to an electric van by 2027.

If you’re in the market for a new van, whatever kind you’re looking to buy, read our guide to the best small vans for 2024 to get started.

What are your predictions for 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

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Zach Hayward-Jones

Written by

Zach Hayward-Jones

Zach Hayward-Jones is a Copywriter at Simply Business, with six years of writing experience across entertainment, insurance, and financial services. Zach specialises in covering small business and landlord insurance. He has a particular interest in issues impacting the hospitality industry after spending a number of years working as a pastry chef.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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