UK consumers spend more than £72 billion a year on skilled tradespeople

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.

It 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, going to the hairdressers and having building work done.  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 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 Skills Spending Index also 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 plumber, with 39 per cent of the vote.

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, spending £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 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.

Carole Stott, chair of Find a Future, believes skilled workers are at the heart of the UK’s economy.

“Our Skills Spending Index shows just how valuable skilled professionals are to the UK’s economy and also in our everyday lives. From calling out a plumber to getting a bouquet made, we are dependent on the services and expertise of our skilled people and should celebrate them more regularly.

“After honing their own skills during two years of hard work, Team UK will now be bidding to bring home gold medals from Brazil and prove that we have some of the most skilled young people in the world.  We really hope the public will get behind Team UK and take inspiration from their quest to be named the best in the world at their chosen skill.”