According to research by City Plumbing, demand for construction and trade workers has increased by a massive 345% in the past year. So if you’ve considered a job as a self-employed tradesperson, now could be the perfect time to start. 

This guide will look into the skilled trades that are in demand in the UK right now and share tips to help you branch out as a self-employed trade or construction worker. We’ll cover:

  • How the UK construction and trade market looks today
  • How to make the most out of the current market
  • Keeping finances organised and efficient with Countingup

How the UK construction and trade market looks today

There are currently 94,912 advertised vacancies (8% of all open roles) in the trade and construction sector across the UK. In addition, a Construction Skills Network (CHS) study predicts that the UK will have an extra 216,800 construction jobs to fill by 2025. CHS also predicts private housing work to grow by £12.1 billion in the next four years.

Looking at these numbers, it’s not surprising that 3.7 million (12% of working adults) British citizens now consider shifting to a career in trades. According to City Plumbing, the most popular trades to go into being:

  • Plumbing (11%)
  • Building/construction (8%)
  • Electrics/electrical engineering (6%)
  • Joinery (6%)
  • Painting/decorating (5%)

How to make the most out of the current market

If seeing these numbers inspires you to branch out as a self-employed tradesperson, here are a few tips to help you maximise your chances in the current market. 

Choose a niche

There’s an increase in demand for more niche roles since employers might struggle to find candidates with highly specific qualifications. For example, there’s a shortage of tradespeople specialising in mechanical and geoscience engineering, so having those skills will make you more desirable to clients. 

In addition, new initiatives might also influence which skillsets potential clients view as desirable in tradespeople. One example is the Net-Zero strategy, which compels multiple industries to strive for a more sustainable future. This means that workers specialising in areas like solar energy and wind technology will become increasingly sought after. 

Choosing a niche is one of the most surefire ways to hone your skills and stand out in your chosen field by becoming a true expert of your craft. You’ll also increase your value to potential clients if you can do what other self-employed tradespeople can’t.

Master new technologies

With technology ever-evolving, most companies will look for tradespeople that can manage new inventions. As technology advances, the need for workers who are well-versed in modern software and materials will likely continue to increase. This means that staying ahead of industry trends, standards, and innovations is a great way to gain a competitive edge against other trade workers.

The great thing about learning to master new technologies is that most industries will eventually need your skills. Whether you want to become a mechanical engineer or painter/decorator, knowing how to use the latest technology in your field will become a huge selling point. 

Consider your location

If you don’t have a niche in mind already, a good way to choose your focus is to look at the skilled trades that are in demand in your local area. This approach will help you build a business that people actually need, meaning you’ll increase your chances of attracting more clients. 

Start by researching similar businesses that operate in your location and take notes of the services they don’t offer that people might need. For example, there might be a bunch of standard painting businesses available, but none that do wall painted landscapes or pictures.

If you need help defining a skill gap in your area, this map by Small Business Prices demonstrates the skill shortage and demand by region in the UK.

Educate yourself where possible

Becoming a successful self-employed tradesperson requires the right level of experience and skill to complete the jobs alone to a standard that pleases your clients. So, take the opportunity to perfect your skills whenever you can. 

Most industries require some form of qualification, so the first step is to obtain those. You can start by researching to find courses that cover your chosen profession. If you plan to switch to a trade you haven’t done before, look for beginner courses to learn the basics first. Once you have the key skills, you can move on to more specialist courses. 

On the other hand, if you already have experience within a specific profession, look for ways to perfect and deepen your skills in a particular area. For instance, an already skilled painter could look into courses on wall landscapes.

Suppose you can’t find a course about your chosen specialism. In that case, YouTube is full of video tutorials you can watch to deepen your skills and knowledge, whatever your industry and niche. 

Get your finances in order

If you want to take advantage of construction trades being in high demand in the UK and branch out as a self-employed tradesperson, it’s vital to organise your finances early. The best way to do this is to open a business current account dedicated to your professional transactions. 

Legally, limited companies must have a separate business account, while sole traders can choose not to. That said, no matter what business structure you set up as, opening a separate account for your business activities will benefit you in many ways

The main benefit of a business current account like Countingup is that you get access to free built-in accounting software so you can manage your finances from one app. In addition, Countingup has lots of features designed to make life easier for one-person businesses. Learn more below.

Keep your finances organised and efficient with one app

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.

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