The Trade Index: The top paid and most in demand trades across the UK

byLes Roberts on July 8th 2022

There has been a massive shortage of skilled trade workers across the UK leaving the demand for trade jobs incredibly high. Building and construction skills have soared as Brits have spent £110 billion on home improvements during the coronavirus pandemic - that’s about £2,000 per person for home renovations  - creating a high demand for tradespeople

Bionic, the business energy experts, always fight the corner of small businesses and support the growing local trade economy. So, with trade workers still high in demand, we've created a UK Trade Index. From beauty therapists and electricians to butchers and bakers, the results revealed the best UK city with the most jobs available and the average salaries for each trade role. 

Tradesperson uses a triangular ruler to hold down the page of a blueprint they're drawing.

The top UK cities offering the most trade jobs from Birmingham to Cardiff

To work out the top UK cities, our trade index looked at 10 of the highest populated cities in the UK outside of London, the trade jobs available and the average salary per trade in each city. The results revealed that Birmingham is the UK city with the highest number of vacancies in trade jobs - with 5,141 trade-related roles available. Manchester came in second with 4,947 vacancies, and Coventry in third with 4,457 trade jobs available.

We’ve omitted London from our index to avoid skewing the results because of the sheer size and density of the capital’s population.

Continue reading to see if you're in the right city for your trade! 

Graphic showing a map of the UK highlighting where the top 10 trade cities are from Bristol to Glasgow.

Outside of the capital, Birmingham takes the top spot with 5,141 trade jobs available in the UK

Excluding London, our index put Birmingham in first place for the most trade vacancies, with 5,141  jobs available. Specifically, roles in cleaning, beauty treatments and hair maintenance were the most common vacancies. 

Modern silver and gold building in Birmingham

This West Midland city had 163 roles available for aspiring beauty therapists, with an average salary of £21,608.  Home to some amazing local independent beauty businesses, companies such as West Heath’s ‘The Beauty Company’ - experts in Nouveau LVL Lash Enhancement to shellac nails and facials - are continuing to grow. 

Manchester has the second-highest number of trade jobs available, outside of London

The study found that Manchester is the second-best city for the number of available trade roles outside of London - there are a total of 4,947 available jobs for tradies to choose from. The northern city had several trade businesses ranking in the top three, including cleaners (6,442 jobs available), gardeners (409 jobs available), and bakers (42 roles available). 

Buildings of media city in Manchester

The increased interest in gardening was born during spring 2020 when the first lockdown commenced in the UK. During lockdown, Brits were looking for distractions from the pandemic and to lift their spirits. From planting colourful flowers to mowing the lawn, the public made their gardens, balconies and window ledges look brand new - leading to a new generation of gardeners on all scales! 

Luckily for new gardeners in Manchester, gardening businesses are blooming all over the city, with local services including commercial and residential gardening company, ‘Newbrook Gardening’ and garden maintenance service, ‘Smith’s Gardening’. 

Outside of the capital, Coventry takes third place with 4,457 trade jobs available in the UK

Outside of London, Coventry ranked third best UK city for traders to set up shop. This UK city had 4,457 vacancies available for a wide range of trades from - building and construction (2,197 jobs), Cleaning (1,974), to beauty and hair (193). 

In particular, roles in the cleaning sector were abundant with 1,974 vacancies in Coventry. Local services include Maid2Clean’, a domestic cleaning company offering a range of house cleaning services.  

Coventry cathedral and a Tudor house set against a blue sky

As thousands of trade businesses are riding a wave of growth off of the back of the pandemic, they’ve also seen opportunities on social sharing app TikTok. Small business owners have been making the most out of the social app which has also seen exponential growth, to boost their business and grow awareness. Companies specialising in cleaning are no stranger to this -  the hashtag '#cleaningbusiness' alone  has now received over 7.3 million views on TikTok.

One of the most successful cleaners on the platform is UK pool cleaner, @thep00lguy, run by Miles Laflin. Miles has been able to cash in on the world's fascination with satisfying cleaning videos and is estimated to make between £5,438 to £9,064 per video when shared with his 12 million followers.

The top trade jobs available in the top 15 UK cities

As of 2022, it’s predicted that there will be 205,000 new houses completed per annum creating a high demand for trade work. With the need for new housing increasing, building and construction are unsurprisingly the most requested trade across the UK. 

However, as the UK enters a new normal, and businesses adjust to the new post-COVID standard, trades such as baking, beauty and hair have also continued to thrive. Our brand new index, also reveals the top trades to get into if you’re looking to move, or if you’re interested in a career change.

Graph showing the UK's most in demand trade industries. Birmingham is top and Glasgow is bottom.

The most in-demand trade jobs with the best average annual salary

Building and construction trades have the highest number of trade job vacancies, with the highest volumes of these being in Birmingham (2,825). However, Bristol offers the highest average paid salaries for all construction trades analysed sitting at £33,266.

Tradesmen works among iron tools in workshop

Bricklayers came out on top with an average salary of £38,775. Although Bristol pays the most on average for the services of Bricklayers, Builders, Carpenters, Handymans, Mechanics, and Scaffolders. In Manchester, Mechanics are the most in-demand of all building and construction roles and can expect the best annual salary averaging at £23,873. 

Building and construction roles receive the highest average annual salary for trades in the UK - making up to £38,775 

RankingJob RoleCitySalary
1BricklayersBristol£38,775
2PlastererBirmingham£37,765
3CarpenterLeicester£36,582
4HandymanBristol£35,451
5ElectricianGlasgow£35,141
6MechanicBristol£34,739
7PlumbingCoventry£33,993
8Painter & DecoratorCoventry£33,859
9BuilderBristol£31,300
10ScaffolderBristol£31,300
11ArchitectCoventry£30,112

Builders, in particular, are in great demand as statistics show the number of completed homes hit nearly 50,000 last quarter, which is the highest in over 20 years. However, despite a growing need and availability for roles in building and construction, there is still a substantial gender pay gap of up to £18,250, between men and women

With this in mind our Chief Customer Officer, Glyn Britton, at Bionic, has rounded up five top tips into what businesses can do to bridge this gap.

“While there is no quick fix to the gender pay gap - businesses can look to actioning the below top 5 tips to make sure they’re offering equal opportunities, appropriate maternity and paternity support”

  1. Include multiple women in shortlists for recruitment and promotions
    When putting together a candidate shortlist of qualified applicants for advertised roles, make sure that more than one woman is included with this shortlist. It also helps if your advertisement is promoted on platforms that are used by a high percentage of both women and men.
  2. Use structured interviews
    Use structured interviews when recruiting for new starters and for promotions, as this can help rule out unfair practices and unconscious bias that can influence the process. For example, ask the same questions of all candidates and mark the responses with a pre-specified format.
  3. Map out salary ranges against each job title
    Some women can be hesitant about negotiating their pay as they don't know what their salary potential is when starting a job. So employers should show salary bands against each job description so women can visualise potential salary earnings.
  4. Offer shared parental leave  
    When women have children, the gender pay gap widens massively. Employers can help by sharing parental leave to reduce this pay gap. Shared parental leave means both parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. 
  5. Be open about the process and the criteria for decision making process behind a jobs and promotions
    Be transparent about pay and promotions so employees know what is involved and others can then review decisions made in the workplace. This can help reduce the gender pay gap and make promotions and pay as fair as possible.

The top 5 UK cities for beauty and hair roles

CityBeauty therapist jobsBeauty therapist salaries
Liverpool92£24,575
Birmingham163£21,608
Leeds102£21,082
Bristol93£20,896
Sheffield71£19,752
Female hairdresser with long brown hair brushes and blow dries a female client's short hair
CityHairdresser jobsHairdresser salaries
Coventry33£26,739
Leicester22£24,958
Nottingham21£22,622
Bristol14£21,194
Liverpool20£21,160

There are 1,299 beauty and hair roles available across the UK with the largest demand situated in Birmingham - offering 101 vacancies. However, the highest-paid beauty roles available are located in the northern city of Liverpool sitting at £24,575 and hairdressers can find the highest salaries in Coventry by earning £26,739.  

The top 5 UK cities for bakeries

CityJobsSalary
Nottingham37£25,773
Sheffield36£22,459
Leeds41£21,480
Birmingham46£21,270
Liverpool40£20,706

However, Birmingham is the best city in the UK with the most available jobs for Bakers. There are 46 available jobs in Birmingham, 42 in Manchester, and 41 in Leeds, completing the top three.

A bakery counter in Nottingham displaying freshly-baked bread

The top 5 UK cities for gardening roles

CityJobsSalary
Leeds28£23,102
Sheffield39£22,046
Coventry30£21,583
Leicester27£20,794
Birmingham46£20,542

Leeds was the most fruitful for gardeners, offering an average annual salary at £23,102, the highest out of the cities analysed. Sheffield comes in second place with an average annual salary of £22,046 and Coventry ranks in third with £21,583. 

A male gardener in Leeds uses a strimmer to remove grass from edges of a driveway

The top 5 UK cities for butchers

CityJobsSalary
Bristol13£23,380
Leeds30£23,226
Birmingham22£19,524
Liverpool19£18,983
Nottingham28£18,805

Bristol came out on top for the highest-paid annual salary for butchers, at £23,380. Ranking just after Bristol for the highest average salary was Leeds in second place at £23,226 and Birmingham came in third with an average salary of £19,524, respectively. 

A busy butchers counter in Bristol advertising rib eye steaks

The top 5 UK cities for cleaning roles

CityJobsSalary
Manchester2,170£19,963
Birmingham2,001£19,860
Coventry1,974£19,853
Leicester1,574£19,815
Bristol1,541£19,802

The demand for cleaners has increased exponentially over the last few years, with COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions becoming prominent in our day to day lives. Whether it’s workplaces or home - the public and companies have become much more conscious of cleanliness and keeping germs at bay, by deep cleaning office spaces or regular weekly cleans in the home.   

A cleaner at an office in Manchester wears blue gloves while using spray detergent and a cloth to clean a desk with a laptop and phone on it

All over the UK, a variety of cleaning jobs are in high demand with Manchester and Birmingham offering the most vacancies outside of London.  Manchester offers around 2,170 available jobs and Birmingham follows with 2,001 opportunities. 

Methodology 

Data on average salary and number of jobs was collected for the 15 largest cities in the UK outside of London. London was omitted to ensure it’s dense population did not skew the index results. Job titles to look at were decided by using search volume for a range of trade style jobs. Those with the highest monthly search volumes were chosen, to give a top 20 most searched for jobs.