According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there are over 280,000 skilled construction and building jobs in the United Kingdom. But skilled construction and building tradesmen are in constant shortage in the UK. In fact, the Federation of Master Builders reported in their latest State of Trade Survey that over half of SMEs are struggling to find bricklayers and carpenters and more than 2 out of 5 are struggling to recruit site managers.
If you work in the skilled trades, where are the best opportunities for you to live and work? We ranked UK regions to determine the best areas for skilled construction and building tradespeople based on average salaries, job availability and the cost of living in different areas. Here's what we found.
Best Places in Great Britain for Construction and Building Trades
Highest Pay: The region with the highest pay is London, where skilled construction and building trades workers earn an average of £36,691 a year. The area with the lowest pay is the North West, with average pay of just £24,964. Given the high cost of construction insurance, pay is an important consideration.
Best Pay vs. Cost of Living: The West Midlands is the most affordable, offering skilled construction and building trades workers the highest pay once you take into account the cost of living in an area. The South East is the least affordable for skilled construction and building tradespeople to live with a pay to cost of living ratio of just 0.84.
Jobs Availability: Scotland has the most robust jobs market for skilled construction and building tradespeople, with 15.1 jobs per 1,000 economically active people. London has the worst job opportunities, with only 3.7 jobs per 1,000 people.
|Best and Worst Regions for Construction and Building Trades||Best||Worst|
|Average Annual Pay||London||North West|
|Affordability||West Midlands||South East|
Scotland ranked as the best region in Great Britain for skilled construction and building trades. Workers in Scotland earn an average of £28,270 per year—the 4th highest in Great Britain. But since Scotland has a relatively low cost of living (the typical household spends 14% less on living expenses in Scotland than the UK average), a worker's salary stretches further. For example, the Pay to Cost of Living metric in Scotland was 1.10—second only to the West Midlands which had a Pay to Cost of Living metric of 1.11.
Scotland had the highest jobs density metric (15.1 skilled construction and building trades jobs per 1,000 economically active people), which means workers should have a relatively easy time finding a good job. In fact, Scotland hosts 84% more skilled trades jobs on a per-capita basis of the working population than the UK average, which is 8.2 jobs per 1,000 people.
With 21% more new build houses completed in 2019 than the previous year, according to government data, Scotland is clearly one of the best regions for skilled construction and building tradespeople to call home.
2. North East
The North East ranked as the second best region for skilled construction and building trades workers. Skilled construction and building tradespeople in the North East earn £26,171 a year on average, and the lowest cost of living means that the area's Pay to Cost of Living metric of 1.10 tied that of Scotland.
13,000 jobs for 1,273,375 million working people means there are 10.2 skilled construction and building trades jobs for every 1,000 economically active people—24% more than the UK average.
3. Yorkshire and The Humber
Yorkshire and The Humber is the third best region for skilled construction and building trades, providing a solid concentration of builder jobs, and good pay considering the cost of living.
Skilled construction and building tradespeople earn an average of £27,163 per year in Yorkshire and The Humber, which is 3% less than the UK average. However the cost of living is 9% less than the UK average which means a worker's pay stretches further for expenses like food and housing. In 2019 there were 28,000 skilled construction and building trades jobs in Yorkshire and The Humber, contributing to a jobs density of 10.4.
Top Regions for Construction and Building Trades Jobs
Below we list the data on top regions for builders in Great Britain. Across all metrics, higher numbers are more desirable.
|Overall Rank||Region||Average Annual Skilled Trades Pay||Number of Skilled Trades Jobs||Average Annual Household Spending||Jobs Density Metric||Pay/Cost of Living Metric|
|3||Yorkshire and The Humber||£27,163||28,000||£27,087||10.4||1.00|
If you're new to the trade, be sure you learn about the best types of tradesman insurance, to figure out which coverage you'll really need.
NimbleFins' study assessed three key factors to determine the best places in Great Britain for construction and building tradesmen to pursue their careers.
1. Skilled construction and building trades job density per region
Regions with a higher concentration of skilled construction and building trades jobs relative to the working population are more desirable and rank higher in our study.
In 2019, there were 280,000 skilled trades jobs in the United Kingdom according to the Office for National Statistics. There were 34,071,000 economically active people in the United Kingdom, yielding a jobs density metric for tradespeople of 8.2 in the UK—this means there are 8.2 skilled construction and building trades jobs for every 1,000 working people in the UK.
We calculated this metric by dividing the number of skilled trades jobs by the working population (280,000 divided by 34,071,000, then multiplying by 1,000 so the result is "jobs per thousand people"). The jobs density per region ranges from 3.7 in London to 15.1 in Scotland.
2. Pay/Cost of living index per region
In determining the best places for skilled construction and building tradespeople, it is important to understand how easily a worker can afford essentials like housing, transportation, food and entertainment, as affordability plays a large role in our quality of life. To reflect the cost of living in different regions, we adjusted tradespeople salaries in this study by the average household spending per region so that regions with a lower cost of living rank higher. The Pay/Cost of Living metric reflects the average worker gross pay divided by the average household expenditure.
Construction tradesman included in this study reflect a number of highly skilled jobs:
- Steel erectors
- Bricklayers and masons
- Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
- Plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers
- Carpenters and joiners
- Glaziers, window fabricators and fitters
- Construction and building trades n.e.c.
- Floorers and wall tilers
- Painters and decorators
|Average Pay by Region for Skilled Trades||United Kingdom||North East||North West||Yorkshire and the Humber||East Midlands||West Midlands||East||London||South East||South West||Wales||Scotland|
|Bricklayers and masons||£24,807||£23,638||£24,152||£27,075||£26,535||£22,350||£24,981||n/a||£22,015||£21,712||£30,890||£24,859|
|Roofers, roof tilers and slaters||£24,901||£21,566||£23,768||£29,240||£25,106||£20,461||£28,406||n/a||£26,825||£35,212||£16,823||£24,742|
|Plumbers and heating and ventilating engineers||£30,432||£29,280||£27,749||£29,663||£32,972||£30,418||£29,642||£35,346||£30,662||£30,276||£25,442||£31,593|
|Carpenters and joiners||£27,587||£26,031||£25,092||£26,943||£28,947||£28,782||£29,836||£36,499||£27,756||£27,060||£23,239||£27,019|
|Glaziers, window fabricators and fitters||£21,492||£19,258||£20,614||£21,671||£21,495||£21,383||£25,178||n/a||£19,980||£19,573||£19,778||£23,625|
|Construction and building trades n.e.c.||£25,498||£30,888||£20,466||n/a||£24,557||£25,565||£21,781||n/a||£24,945||£27,555||£33,394||£28,040|
|Building finishing trades||£25,378||£27,618||£23,252||£25,900||£21,793||£24,294||£27,447||£30,995||£27,770||£23,488||£22,227||£25,505|
|Floorers and wall tilers||£27,022||n/a||£24,950||£28,651||£27,017||£22,701||£26,631||n/a||£34,995||£24,960||£20,411||£25,514|
|Painters and decorators||£24,669||£26,632||£23,085||£24,722||£20,212||£24,077||£27,673||n/a||£26,450||£23,408||£22,732||£25,004|
|Construction and building trades supervisors||£37,249||£26,018||£33,272||£32,195||£37,787||£38,027||£39,686||£46,911||£35,738||£36,204||£36,684||£35,951|