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Workforce and productivity challenges for the P&H sector

by | 25/10/2023

Today we have released a new research report that sheds light on some of the profound labour issues facing the UK Plumbing and Heating (P&H) sector. A rapidly ageing workforce combined with a pronounced skills gap already has government, industry leaders, and business owners seriously concerned and searching for solutions. Despite the ‘buzz’ around apprenticeships in the industry, the businesses we interviewed also highlight some of the significant barriers to taking these on.

In line with similar issues in the wider UK construction industry, our new report puts into perspective the realities for P&H installation businesses. The report titled, ‘At the cliff edge?’, is available here, and lays bear some of the challenges they encounter regarding staffing, and wider confidence levels felt by trade professionals and homeowners.

Not only are these trades battling these fundamental issues, challenging economic headwinds are also destabilising the sector making day-to-day life for some business owners a real challenge. Our report puts into context these issues and attempts to bring these issues back to the fore of policy makers agendas.

Some of the main workforce findings include:

  • The vast majority identify a lack of skilled workers in the sector, which seriously impacts productivity
  • Lack of government support and onerous red-tape prevents many businesses from investing in apprenticeships
  • But, positively, effective direct support could encourage a huge swath of business owners to seriously consider investing in apprenticeships

The second part of the report revisits some of the longitudinal data we have been monitoring over recent years. This assesses business confidence levels, which are still fairly weak, and additionally looks at forward work projections which again reveal a degree of pessimism compared to previous survey iterations.

Many stakeholders in the sector appreciate the vital importance of a sustainable installer labour force and we have therefore pulled in various other data sources from across the industry to provide a holistic view. This includes data from a collaboration with the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) earlier this year.

Damien Walters, Chief Executive of BIKBBI who has provided the foreword for this report comments “Whilst there is lots of great work happening throughout the industry in addressing the skills gap and labour shortage, there remains much to do when it comes to solving the issue.

This latest piece of research from our friends at Eureka! highlights the challenge and identifies a few green shoots for optimism. One thing is for sure, we have a great industry and the without doubt the internal capacity to overcome any challenge.”

Richard Mace, Director at Eureka! Research comments “We have once again shown our strong affinity with the P&H sector by undertaking another of our own research studies to highlight the considerable challenges being experienced in this vital part of our economy.

This sector supports over a quarter of a million direct employees and thus needs levels of support that recognises its immense contribution to the UK economy. Such support will help to ensure it continues to thrive and provide excellent levels of support to UK businesses and homeowners.“

All of our free research reports can be found here.

For more information about Eureka’s work in the home improvement space please click here.

Notes: The principle data source in this report is a Eureka online survey which was undertaken with 250 UK based P&H business owners during October 2023.

Eureka! Research

6 Parkside Court | Greenhough Road
Lichfield | Staffordshire | WS13 7AU


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