Gen Z trade pulse: young minds and the trades industry 

Perception is power: revealing young people's perspectives on trade careers

Breaking barriers &
building bridges

Checkatrade has carried out a survey asking young people for their perspectives on trade careers, and it revealed that perception is power.

Checkatrade surveyed hundreds of 14 to 25-year-olds from different regions and cities across the UK to gather crucial insights into the trade industry.  

It delves into various perceptions towards trade professions, with many of the  country’s young people still holding misconceptions about what a trade career consists of. 

The trade industry desperately needs young talent if it is to keep up with soaring demand – this survey highlights how young people feel about the trade industry and various reasons as to why they may or may not choose a trade career. 

Currently, 35% of the construction and trades workforce is aged over 50. The ageing workforce and loss of older workers to the industry presents a challenge for the construction sector. Without a pipeline of young talent in place, the UK will not be able to meet construction demand once this demographic reaches official retirement age. 

Key stats

0 %
of trade jobs explored in the survey earn a higher average salary than the national average
of young people admit they would choose a trade career if it meant they would earn more money
11 %
of young people think there is little gender diversity in the trades industry

We asked young people what are the biggest barriers to getting into trades?

1 %
said university pressure
0 %
said they hardly get any career advice on trade jobs
0 %
said their parents don't think a trades career is good for them

1 in 2 young people say they find a career in trades appealing but there are barriers

One main barrier for young people starting a trade apprenticeship is that the majority of career advice given in schools is primarily focused on further education and university. 

Due to schools focusing on academia over vocational/hands-on learning, 19% of those surveyed admitted they had only been told about academic routes. 

Another main barrier is the lack of knowledge young people have in terms of options, career routes, advice and earning potential of jobs in the trades industry, with 17% reporting they hardly get any career advice on trade jobs, 13% saying their parents don’t think a trades career is good for them and 27% don’t think a career in trades would suit them. 

With university being one of the most popular routes for many young people leaving school, it often results in student loans that need to be repaid once they start working. Opting for a trade apprenticeship offers young individuals a debt-free pathway to a career, enabling them to start earning as soon as they leave school. 

A key element of the study revealed there is a want and a need to break through the modern-day perception that young people need to always take the academic route in order to have ‘a successful’ career

Electricians and painters are the most appealing trade career choice to young people

Among all the trades roles available, electricians and painters are the most appealing trade career choices for young people.  

27% of young people stated they find an electrician to be the most appealing of the trade professions. This was followed by a painter, with 23%, and 16% saying carpenter.  

With construction and trade vacancies at record highs, widespread shortages have become particularly prevalent among plumbers, bricklayers, carpenters and electricians.  

In fact, the UK has seen a sharp rise in skills shortages across trades and construction – from 29% at the start of 2021 to 55% at the end of 2021, with these shortages also persisting beyond 2021.  

Ensuring young people understand the opportunity and prospects offered by a career in the trades will be crucial if the UK is to achieve its housebuilding, construction and green goals. 

Electrician 27%
Painter 23%
Carpenter 16%
Plumber 14%
Bricklayer 14%
Plasterer 9%
Floorer 9%
Roofer 8%
Steel Erector 7%
Scaffolder 7%
Glazier 4%

Young people perceive trade jobs earn below the average UK salary

Engaging young people in trades careers will be crucial for meeting construction demand by 2032, the Trade Skills Index 2023 reveals.  

As the UK faces a skills gap of over 937,000 workers in the next ten years, the demand for more qualified young people to enter the industry will soar. Our latest report reveals that 244,000 qualified apprentices are required to plug the skills gap by 2032.  

This is the equivalent of 25,000 qualified apprentices every year, or 500 qualified apprentices every week, for the next ten years in order to keep up with construction demand. 

Ensuring young people understand the opportunity and prospects offered by a career in the trades will be crucial. 

7 out of the 11 trades professions earn more than the national average salary

Young people underestimate the amount tradespeople earn

7 out of the 11 traditional trades professions explored in the young people survey earn more on average than the £27.8k national average salary. 

But when asked whether they thought each individual profession earns more or less than that amount, the majority of young people in each case predicted these trades earned in line or less than the national average, when in reality, they earn more. 

In fact, all 11 trade professions offer the potential for six figure salaries when self-employed or by setting up a business. 

Top trades earners include:

£ 0
£ 0
£ 0
1 %

of young women said they would consider a trades career if they saw more people like them in the industry

44% of young people think there is little gender diversity in the trade industry. 23% also said there is little ethnic diversity and 46% think there is little disability diversity in the trades. 

"We can inspire women to begin a career in trades by paying them an equal and fair wage"

- Jasmin, 29

"Schools and colleges need to show it as an option to women and young girls"

- Rachel, 25

"I love being able to do something different and be somewhere different every day"

- Lauren, 21

Higher salary and flexible working would attract more young people to trade careers

0 %
said flexible hours would attract them to a trades career

28% of young people said choosing their own hours and flexibility would attract them to a trades career, along with 29% admitting they would choose a trade career to earn more money.

23% also said they would be attracted to a trades career as they like the thought of being able to run their own business.

The way we approach work is constantly evolving, with an increasing amount of people choosing flexibility and independence in their careers.

A career in the trades can provide the desired level of flexibility and earning potential that young people say would attract them to a career. When you add to these the autonomy, job security, and varied work that trade careers offer, you can see what a highly attractive and compelling choice it can be. Yet, despite these benefits, trade careers are frequently undervalued and overlooked.

The solution:
engage more young people in trades careers

Years 10 and 11: Get a taste for the trades at school with Try A Trade

Careers advice for schools can often be bland and uninspiring, and that’s why Try a Trade is different.

We’re helping students in Years 10 and 11 discover more about careers in the trades, through a range of free sources, experiental learning sessions, and first-hand access to people already working in a trade.

Try a Trade, powered by Checkatrade, is aiming to help plug a national trade skills gap of almost ONE MILLION workers over the next decade, by connecting young people with a world of limitless possibilities in a trades career.

Try a Trade aims to open young people’s minds to the earning power and exciting opportunities offered to them as a tradesperson.

Try a Trade logo

16-25's: Take charge of your future... Get In!

Get In aims to help connect young people ages 16-25 with their first trades job.

It’s easy to take the first step – just upload your CV to our jobs board! Employers looking for an apprentice can easily find you, and together, you’ll start your apprenticeship journey.

No CV? Not to worry, check out or resources to get you started:

Get the summary today!

Complete the form and you’ll be able to download the report summary straight-away.