Corporate downsizing and a desire for greater job satisfaction are leading to a rising number of graduates switching to careers as tradesmen and women, according to an annual industry survey.

IronmongeryDirect invited 10,000 tradespeople to take part in the annual study and found a 31% increase in the numbers of graduates working across a range of trades such as builders, joiners and shop fitters.

The trend suggests that high rates of unemployment and the wave of redundancies following the financial crash in 2008, have pushed more graduates into rethinking their future career options and picking up a trade with many entrepreneurial graduates opting for self-employment.

Researchers point out that graduates may also be seeking a higher degree of job satisfaction. Tradespeople score the love for their job as an average of eight out of 10 – with 69% scoring job satisfaction at eight out of 10 or higher. This compares to the average score in the population as a whole of six out of 10 - with just 54% scoring job satisfaction as eight or higher.

Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect, said: “These results are indicative of the rising status of tradespeople within the UK. The stereotypical image of the ‘white van man’ is dead and gone, with tradespeople increasingly viewed as highly professional, skilled entrepreneurs with many running their own successful businesses.

“It’s not hard to understand why therefore, with many graduates affected by the economic downturn of recent years and having to compromise on their original career choices, they are opting to take their future into their own hands and learn skills that will always be in demand.”

The study also found that tradespeople are almost three times more likely to be their own boss and that prospects for those working in trades have continued to improve in the last 12 months. Only 6% of trade businesses reported that they were finding it hard to get work - an 8% improvement on last year’s situation.