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Building projects in Mid Wales hampered by shortage of skilled tradespeople 

23 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Building projects hampered by shortage of skilled tradespeople

A shortage of building contractors and skilled tradespeople in Mid Wales could hamper residential and commercial projects, a local architect has warned.

Planned construction projects in the area are already facing delays due to the number of contractors already committed to work, according to Doug Hughes, Managing Director and Principal Architect at Hughes Architects.

To add to pressures, he claims that not enough young people are being trained to take up roles such as bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing.

Limited opportunities

Mr Hughes’ warning comes just months after he raised concerns about older and listed buildings in the area under threat due to the lack of skilled craftspeople for conservation projects.

“We’re witnessing the lack of relevant courses available in the region to train people into skilled trades ranging from bricklaying, carpentry and plumbing, through to roofing and more,” said Mr Hughes who has offices in Newtown, Welshpool, and Aberystwyth.

“In the past, there was a wide range of building and trade courses available for school leavers and others to join. Today, they’re quite limited or students are having to travel outside the area to find opportunities. This is now starting to hamper building work in the area.”

He added: “While the construction industry has been impacted by the rise in material costs which has resulted in a reduction in some housing projects, overall the industry is strong and particularly resilient since the pandemic. But there’s an absence of skilled tradespeople in the number needed say compared to 10 years ago.”

Mr Hughes said the issue was affecting everything from small domestic residential projects to large-scale commercial builds.

No quick fix

Hughes Architects is currently working with NPTC, the Newtown College, to develop new courses that are due to be launched soon.

Mr Hughes said “There’s no quick answer to this, but it does demonstrate how the reduction in available college and other courses in the region is having an impact on what is an important industry. Back in the summer, we warned of a similar situation with people with conservation building skills, such as masonry and carpentry.”

Mr Hughes has spoken to several contractors who are he says are unable to take on apprentices locally as they have to be able to sign on to a relevant college course. All share the same complaint that many of those courses are simply not available in the area or are prohibitive to join because they are so far away.

Mr Hughes has called on the Welsh and UK governments to address the problem, saying: “If we don’t address this soon, the issues we have now will only get worse and we’ll struggle to get many projects off the ground.”

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