Badly built stereotypes? The lifestyles of Britain’s tradespeople revealed

Think tradespeople in white vans are all about ‘lad culture’? Think again. More than a quarter of Britain’s 21st century tradespeople are interested in politics and environmental issues, whilst half have an active interest in current affairs.

A survey* of British tradespeople’s habits and interests, conducted by kitchen and joinery specialist Magnet Trade, has uncovered some surprising truths about what our builders, plumbers and electricians really get up to.

  • Overall’s a third of tilers, brickies, plumbers and carpenters are interested in environmental issues, compared to just 14 percent of joiners
  • A quarter of plasterers are interested in the lives of celebrities
  • Half of 18-24 year old tradespeople enjoy art as a hobby, compared to less than one in ten amongst tradespeople over the age of 25
  • Nearly 50 percent of 18-25 year old tradespeople regularly watch Question Time
  • More than half of our plumbers, plasterers and tilers regularly watch Panorama
  • 20 percent of carpenters listen to Radio 4, compared to just four percent of plumbers

These days, you’re more likely to find a tradesperson reading in their spare time than playing sport. Whilst over a quarter of our manual workers enjoy photography and more than one in ten likes to bird watch (winged animals) or make arts and crafts at home.

When it comes to what our tradespeople watch and listen to, the News at Ten, wildlife documentaries and DIY shows are on the box the most. Surprisingly, your builder is more likely to tune into Panorama or Question Time than Family Guy, The Simpsons or an easy watching comedy panel like 8 Out of 10 cats or Celebrity Juice.

When it comes to the wireless, it’s mostly BBC Radio 2 and local stations which get airtime ahead of BBC Radio 1, although one in five carpenters seemingly prefer the dramas and shipping forecasts found over on BBC Radio 4.

It might be a cliché to find page.3 pressed up against a white van’s windscreen, but The Sun is still the favourite paper for nearly a third of tradespeople, followed by The Daily Mail as the favourite read for one in five.

In a ‘trade off’, 63 percent of roofers enjoy reading in their spare time, whilst only one in five joiners do the same. There’s a similar contrast to be found when it comes to bird watching – with more than one in five carpenters enjoying it compared to less than ten percent of plumbers, brickies and welders.

When it comes to looking sharp, look no further than welders and plumbers, as more than 30 percent of them have an interest in fashion, compared to less than 10 percent of tilers.

Alison Coleman, Marketing Manager at Magnet Trade, commented:

“A lot of people might associate tradespeople with lad culture and the perceived interests that go with that. We wanted to explore the real interests and habits of the 21st century British tradesperson and the results demonstrate a far more diverse workforce than might have been expected!”

The 21st Century Tradesperson:

  • Football, technology and cars are favourite interests
  • Spending time with family, reading and travelling are favourite ways to spend spare time
  • News, wildlife documentaries and DIY shows are favourite TV programmes
  • The Sun, Daily Mail and The Mirror are favourite newspapers
  • Less than half use a laptop for work, more than a quarter use an iPad/tablet
  • Over half use Facebook, a quarter Twitter and one fifth Google+

*250 tradespeople surveyed by Research Now, August 2014