As CEO and founder of HomeServe, and a passionate supporter of business and entrepreneurs, Richard Harpin is well placed to assess the health of the construction and trade industry.

He set up the company in 1993 and has since overseen its growth into a global business with over 53 million customers globally. Along the way, he has worked closely with sole traders and larger regional businesses, taking note of what’s needed to secure a brighter future for the home improvement market in increasingly difficult trading conditions…

Reliable, skilled trades are a foundational part of the UK’s economy. But competing issues are now making it harder for businesses and homeowners to find them. Without action today, Richard believes this skills gap will continue to grow, putting a hugely important sector at risk. This, as he points out, is the main motivation for launching Trade-Up.

“We need to act to close the industry’s skills gap. Even with 32,000 new entrants each year, construction and other key trades are still facing a serious shortage of well-trained workers. So much will be put at risk if nothing is done, not least new housing, cutting carbon emissions and wider efforts to level up parts of the country.

I have been personally involved with this campaign from the beginning, engaging and vetting over 100 training providers. This work has led to a select group of organisations that are best placed to turn the tide on a growing problem. Working this way is far more effective and will give those interested in changing career everything they need to retrain successfully.

The training offered by Trade-Up and its partners is not a short-term solution, but rather a strategic effort to reset our sector’s course. This campaign aims to deliver an extra 10,000 skilled people per year and serve as a single voice for underrepresented businesses that contribute so much to the UK’s economy – this is key in a time when others are currently winning the battle for government attention and support.

The challenges we face are unique, but they can be solved with joined-up thinking and a clear vision. That’s why Trade-Up is a shared effort, pooling the knowledge, experience and resources of some of the industry’s best educators and brightest minds. By working together, we can stimulate economic growth and create a more prosperous future for construction and skilled trades.”