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The nation’s £72bn skills bill revealed

skillsheaderConsumers in Britain are collectively spending more than £72bn each year on skilled tradespeople, according to a new study.

The first Skills Spending Index, commissioned by Find a Future, the organisation that manages the UK’s entry into the international WorldSkills competition, reveals the amount the nation spends annually on skilled professionals such as beauticians, plumbers, mechanics and florists – and of course painters and decorators

The Skills Spending Index explores the skilled professionals the nation is most reliant on – with car mechanic taking the top spot. Two in five adults say they cannot live without the skills of a mechanic. This is closely followed by plumbers, with 39% of the vote, with painters and decorators notching up a respectable 10 %.

The Survey finds that cooking/chef skills are the ones we pay most for every year – with people each spending an estimated £342 a year going out for meals. This is followed by having a car fixed or serviced (£213), going to the hairdressers (£125) and having building work done (£99). In the average year adults in Britain amass a total skills bill of around £1473 each.

The study is released to mark the send off of Team UK, which will fly to Brazil today (7 August) to represent the UK at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015. From 11 to 16 August 2015, 41 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, students and employees will go head to head with 1000 individuals from across the globe to be named the best in the world at skills ranging from visual merchandising and electrical maintenance to bricklaying and jewellery making.
The Index also reveals some interesting regional and gender variations:

  • Londoners have the highest total skills bill at £2285 per year – over £800 above the national average. Wales has the lowest total spend at £1087
  • People in the East of England spend the most on car repairs at £254 per year, with car owners in the West Midlands spending the least, only £173
  • Women have a higher total skills bill than men at £1497 versus £1445, a difference of nearly £50 per year. However, men tend to pay more than their female counterparts on builders and going out for meals – £115 versus £84 and £351 compared to £334.

Furthermore, the study also shows the public is willing to pay more for the highest calibre professionals. Nearly three quarters of the country (72%) say they would pay more for very highly skilled professionals, those who have won awards or accolades for their work and individuals with excellent client endorsements.

The international WorldSkills competitions are held every two years in cities around the globe to showcase and inspire world-class excellence in skills and introduce young people to a variety of skilled careers. Team UK is managed by WorldSkills UK, part of Find a Future, the educational organisation which brings together the nation’s flagship skills and careers experiences: WorldSkillsUK Skills CompetitionsThe Skills Show, and The Skills Show Experience.

The UK is currently 10th in the WorldSkills rankings after winning two Golds (Bricklaying and Cabinet Making), one Silver (Stonemasonry), three Bronzes (Aircraft Maintenance, Autobody Repair and Electrical Installation) and 17 Medallions for Excellence at the last WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, Germany, which took place in 2013.

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Fig 1. Britain’s skills bill

Skills paid for Amount consumers estimate they spend on this in the average year
Cooking/chefs (going out for meals) £342.30
Car fixed or serviced £213.40
Hair £124.70
Builders £99.00
Jewellery £98.40
Beauty treatments £70.20
Painter and decorators £69.60
Specialist confectionery and cakes £69.50
Electrical repairs and maintenance £68.10
Florists £61.40
Plumbers £60.20
Electricians £59.80
Plasters and tillers £47.80
Gardeners £47.50
Carpenters £41.30
Combined spend for all skills £1473.10

Fig 2.Skilled professionals we could not live without

Position Skilled profession Percentage of population that could not live without them
1 Car mechanic 40%
2 Plumber 39%
3 Electrician 38%
4 Health and social care professional 29%
5 Hairdresser 26%
6 Builder 23%
7 Electrical equipment engineer 16%
8 Plasterer 15%
9 Carpenter 11%
10 Painter/decorator 10%
The nation’s £72bn skills bill revealed
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