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Two thirds of tradesmen in the building finishes and fit out sector are unqualified and there are insufficient new entrants coming into the sector through a formal qualification route according to new research published last month.

A CITB funded Interior Sector Training Review estimated that there are about 60,000 tradesmen operating as ceiling fixers, demountable partition installers, drywall finishers, shop fitters and SFS installers, working within the interiors sector.

More than 35,000 site operatives work in the interior systems trades alone and up to two thirds of site operatives are without official qualification. The research found that the interior systems sector requires at least 1,000 new entrants every year to maintain the level of activity and replace those leaving through age.

Angela Mansell, FPDC’s President said: “Unless we act now to improve the availability and quality of training available, and to encourage more new entrants into our sector by showing them strong, clear career paths, then we will fail to meet our aspirations of delivering better quality and value for money for our clients, to continuously improve standards, to have our craft recognised by the wider world as the skill it undoubtedly is, and to keep operatives safe and proud to work in our industry.”

The research confirmed that the sector is dependent on labour only sub-contractors and it attracts higher levy payments but gets little grant and support in return. Apprenticeships are few and far between which suggests that the current apprenticeship model is ineffective and does not reflect the age profile of entrants.

CSCS card penetration is particularly low for plastering and woodworking trades and the interiors operatives broadly fall within this category, with a CSCS card penetration of about one third of the workforce.

For more information and visit www.fpdc.org or CLICK HERE to view a copy of the research report.