Over eight in 10 tradespeople take on apprentices or staff

  • 83 per cent of tradespeople with rising workloads have employed or plan to take on new staff or apprentices to manage this.
  • Eight in 10 tradespeople (80 per cent) have seen an increase in their workloads since July 2021.
  • Concerningly, just one in five (20 per cent) tradespeople are aware that it is a legal requirement to take out employers’ liability insurance if they hire an apprentice or employ staff.*


Over eight in 10 tradespeople who have seen an increase in their workload have added or plan to hire new staff or apprentices, with nearly a third (31 per cent) intending to or already boosting their teams by five or more, according to new research from Direct Line business insurance.1

For most tradespeople, business has been booming. 80 per cent have seen an increase in their workload since July compared with the first six months of this year, which is driving the decision to hire staff and apprentices.

This willingness to take on new staff is also likely to stem from broader positivity about the outlook for trades. Six in 10 (60 per cent) tradespeople feel optimistic about young people’s prospects in their sector should they choose to pursue it. Of these, more than two in five (41 per cent) believe the industry won’t become redundant for a long time, while 35 per cent think people carrying out improvements to their homes will keep demand high for tradespeople’s services.

When on the hunt for new staff, the most common way tradespeople find new talent is by asking current staff or contacts for recommendations (40 per cent), followed by advertising on a job website (36 per cent). More than a third (35 per cent) have worked or would form a partnership with a training provider to take on an apprentice and deliver a comprehensive skills programme.

Tradespeople are also open to hiring people with different career backgrounds. Nearly half (47 per cent) would hire someone who had previously worked in a separate industry.

When asked about the sectors they would be most willing to hire from, manufacturing was the most popular (45 per cent), followed by agriculture (21 per cent) and finance (21 per cent).

Table One: Industries tradespeople would be most willing to hire from (outside of the trades) – Direct Line business insurance, 2021

Industries Percentage of tradespeople who’d be willing to hire employees from a different industry
Manufacturing 45 per cent
Agriculture 21 per cent
Finance 21 per cent
Professional Services 20 per cent
Hospitality 19 per cent

This openness to workers from other industries could be explained by nearly half of tradespeople (48 per cent) stating there is a shortage of labour in the industry, with the top reason being a lack of desire among young people to train in the trade sector (36 per cent).

Another problem is that tradespeople don’t always feel confident about training new staff and apprentices. A quarter (25 per cent) don’t feel like they or their employer are equipped to train apprentices or new team members. The most common reason for this is a lack of confidence in their own skill set (35 per cent), followed by not having enough time to dedicate to it because they are so busy (33 per cent).

When taking on apprentices, there are certain steps tradespeople are legally obliged to take – but in some cases there is an alarming lack of awareness. For example, it is concerning that only one in five (20 per cent) tradespeople know that they need to take out employers’ liability insurance before onboarding an apprentice. Only a quarter (24 per cent) know that they need to issue them with a contract, while only 31 per cent are aware that they need to be allowed out of work to attend classes.

Jane Morgan, SME Business Manager at Direct Line business insurance, stated:  

“It is promising to see how positive the landscape is looking for tradespeople, as well as their desire to take on apprentices and new staff.

“It is, however, important that tradespeople familiarise themselves with the obligations involved in taking on apprentices, such as the legal requirement for employers’ liability insurance to cover them against any claims made by apprentices or employees during their employment. * For this reason, they should notify their insurer if they intend to hire apprentices or new staff.

"Direct Line business insurance offers a range of products and services aimed at tradespeople - from Employers’ Liability insurance to our Tools and Van Cover."    

For more information about Direct Line business insurance’s Employers’ Liability cover, please go here:


And for more information about Direct Line business insurance’s Tradesperson cover, please visit our website:        




(1) Opinium survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted 9th-12th November 2021

o    220 of those surveyed work as tradespeople

* There are a few exceptions to this rule. You don’t need employers’ liability insurance if all your employees are related to you and the business is not a limited company and if you employ independent (self-employed) contractors. To find out more about the legal requirements around employers liability head to our website here: https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/small-business-insurance/employers-liability-insurance

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group
Unni Henry
Senior PR Consultant
Tel: 07859 888026
Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line business insurance

Launched in 2007 Direct Line business insurance now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.


Direct Line business insurance and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line business insurance products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk