The construction labour market has undergone a period of considerable turbulence resulting from economic cyclicality over the last decade. While some facets of the labour market have recovered in line with economic growth, there remain challenges in attracting new apprentices. The issue is particularly pronounced for certain “wet trades”; namely bricklaying, floor and wall tiling, painting and decorating and plastering.

A mixed method research strategy was employed for the purpose of determining labour market trends for these trades, comprising of employer and apprentice surveys in addition to semi-structured interviews. Findings from the research uncover not only a shift in organisational business models with dependence on sub-contract labour, but also a range of remaining challenges to direct employment and apprentice engagement. Unique insight is presented into the motivation for current apprentices in selecting their career in addition to their opinion on the apprenticeship programme on which they are registered.

A number of recommendations arising from the research have been presented to government, and are either currently under consideration or have been actioned, however there remains much to be done to address construction labour market challenges.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.