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Building trades: between economic optimism and lack of attractiveness


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Article written following the Ipsos x Episto study on a population of building craftsmen. It was written by the Ipsos teams: Damien Barnier (Department Director, Market Strategy & Understanding), Florence Léandre (Research Director, Market Strategy & Understanding) and Pierre-Antoine Lacroix (Research Director, Market Strategy & Understanding).

Favorable economic outlook offset by lack of attractiveness

On the economic front, 90% say they are satisfied with their company's level of activity for 2023 (including 38% who say they are 'very satisfied') and believe it will remain the same or even increase in 2024, 40% in both cases. The most optimistic are those working in the renovation sector.

But while this dynamism is creating needs - 51% of companies surveyed are looking to recruit (including 34% in the short term) - the attractiveness of the building trades remains particularly low, with 89% saying it's difficult to find labor (60% even think it's 'very difficult'). At the same time, it's important to remember that it's compulsory to use an RGE craftsman to benefit from energy renovation grants. If there are fewer of them, the French are likely to postpone the work or go for the cheapest.

This lack of attractiveness raises the question of how to raise the profile of craft trades, particularly in the education system. For 54%, this is reflected in the lack of applicants, while 65% feel that they lack skills and are too demanding: 28% find salary expectations high.

The question of price is central, both for sourcing quality materials (the most important criterion for the purchase of tools, supplies, etc.) and for having a sufficient margin to pay employees properly. It telescopes with the two major concerns of building craftsmen for 2024, the cost of raw materials and fuel, respectively #1 and #2 at 65% and 42%.

Unavoidable environmental awareness calls for support

Lower demand (37%) and employee management (36%) come next, with the environmental dimension representing both an opportunity and a constraint. On the one hand, the government wants to accelerate the energy transition, which benefits craftsmen, but on the other, regulations such as RE2020[1] (to take account of environmental performance in new construction, from the worksite to the building itself) impose new standards.

75% of building professionals believe that environmental issues are important for their company and their business, and 81% think that their awareness will increase over the next 5 years, with construction waste management representing the #1 challenge, followed by the composition of materials and energy consumption. They need to be supported, and 92% of building craftsmen consider that at least one of their partners, brands, manufacturers & distributors is legitimate to support them.

If there was one lesson to be learned from this study, it's that building craftsmen feel they find themselves in a paradoxical situation: rather favorable in economic terms, but poor in terms of attractiveness, at a time when they need to recruit.

In a rather encouraging sign, in its latest note covering the month of February 2024[2]the Banque de France reported a slight fall in interest rates on mortgages for private individuals compared with January (to 4.11%). This is a first in two years, as banks attempt to revitalize demand. And obtaining loans when the number of homes to be renovated by 2050 (20 million) is so high.[3]) offers exceptional prospects that deserve to be exploited.

[1] RE2020 environmental regulations | Ministère de la Transition Écologique et de la Cohésion des Territoires (ecologie.gouv.fr)
[3] https://www.anah.gouv.fr/presse/rentree-2024

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