Britain is a proud country with a proud building tradition – we must not let that die, Rishi

WHERE have all our builders gone?

That’s the question No10 should be grappling with at the moment.

Britain is a proud country with a proud building heritage


Britain is a proud country with a proud building heritagePhoto credit: Getty – Contributor
Rishi Sunak should go out and promote more apprenticeships and artisans


Rishi Sunak should go out and promote more apprenticeships and artisansPhoto credit: Getty

Bricklayers, carpenters, tilers, these are the people who built Britain.

And we have some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, monuments of craftsmanship that have lasted a thousand years and will stand for a thousand years to come.

These landmarks bear witness to our proud building history.

But while we still have these buildings, we’ve lost the art of spawning workers who can create them with their own hands.

Earlier this week, the government announced that it would put bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, tilers and carpenters on the shortage list.

This means that foreign workers with these skills will find it easier to obtain a visa to live and work here.

UK fails miserably

Britain has failed to produce enough construction workers here at home, so we must look abroad for them.

There is a huge gap in our manpower and ministers are trying to fill it.

It’s a flaw that is all too familiar to many.

If you want to build a new home, do an attic conversion or even renovate your kitchen, you have to reckon with excruciatingly long waiting times and skyrocketing costs.

If you ask why, the answer is always the same – they can’t get the workers, they’re booked for months, etc.

Given this, it is understandable that the government has eased visa requirements.

But nonetheless, it’s a move that should concern us all.

The UK is failing miserably at producing enough builders.

How can we be a country that competes on the world stage if we can’t even train enough people to field an expansion?

Why did we let these proud professions die?

Well, I was never a builder.

But before I went into politics and became an MP, I worked with my hands.

I was a miner at Littleton Colliery in Cannock in Staffordshire.

For six years I worked in the pit, like my father and grandfather before me.

There, the heat was allowed to rise as I snaked my way through the deep tunnels, cutting away the coal, which was then loaded onto a conveyor belt and hauled to the surface.

This coal would then be used to fuel the power plants that produced the energy to heat our homes and keep the wheels of industry turning.

Like the bricklayer, the plasterer and the roofer, I played my part in building Britain.

Now Britain needs to build again.

how can we do that

Well, first of all we have to massively increase the number of training places in these trades.

For too long the establishment has taunted builders and craftsmen.

The system is skewed to send our children to college rather than to a workshop or construction site.

But this snobbery was a short-sighted mistake.

Today, a skilled craftsman easily earns more than many graduates.

They can work for themselves, giving them more flexibility to choose their own hours and control their own lives while avoiding the mountain of debt that many college students get by with.

And you rarely meet an unemployed plumber or electrician.

Second, schools and colleges should provide adequate and quality professional training.

That means there are decent courses in schools where young people can try out these practical skills.

Colleges and schools should partner with local construction companies and tradespeople to get their students into these high-skill, high-demand jobs.

This is a win-win for businesses, school leavers and the UK economy.

Third, we need to change our attitudes.

Parents want the best for their children, that is right and proper.

For too long, the dream of getting a college education has been just that for most people—just a dream.

Only the privileged went to campus for three years to read books and write essays.

Earn while you learn

That has now changed, and rightly so.

Working class and middle class children brought a battering ram to these closed institutions to become some of our brightest scholars.

But I worry that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

Too many young people are pushed into university not because they want to or because they are passionate about what they study, but because they are.

Her buddies do.

It’s what their teachers tell them is the next step.

But many of them would earn better while learning a trade.

They can pick up the skills the country so desperately needs while having cash in their pockets at the end of the week.

We need to change the mindset of the country so that we’re as proud of our Brickies as we are of our architects.

The decision to look abroad for UK builders should be a wake-up call for this government.

Rishi Sunak should go out and promote more apprenticeships and artisans.

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Britain is a proud country with a proud building tradition.

We can’t let that die. Britain is a proud country with a proud building tradition – we must not let that die, Rishi


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