Will Davies, managing director of property maintenance and refurbishment company aspect.co.uk, has warned that a shortage of skills in the construction industry will grind UK recovery to a halt.

"Last year, I tried my best to warn anyone who would listen that shortages of skilled tradesmen will eventually derail the upturn in the construction industry," said Mr Davies.

He spoke in response to a survey from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which found that one in five of all vacancies in the UK remained unfilled because the required skilled workers were not available.

Mr Davies continued: "All the building trades have been hit by the recession and the slowdown in the housing market. As a result, 25% of plumbers and 19% of bricklayers left their trades over the preceding four years. We desperately need to train young people in those skills.

"Apprenticeships and on-the-job training schemes are the best way forward and the government is getting on side over skills training, but everything is too slow."