News: Basic household skills are dying out

New research shows that young people are unable to carry out basic household tasks such as wiring a plug or sewing a hem.

Nearly half of those under 30 would struggle to wallpaper a room, 44% could not bleed a radiator and 35% would not know how to unblock a drain.

At the same time, 27% could not sew a hem and 26% do not know how to wire a plug, according to Direct Line Home Response 24 who commissioned a YouGov poll of 2,294 people in March.

Consequently, a fifth of young people admit they have panicked when confronted by a household emergency that they didn’t have the expertise to resolve. This inability to ‘do it themselves’ leaves almost one in 10 feeling inadequate.

The country’s domestic skills shortage also comes at a high financial cost. The younger generation shell out an average £1,741 per year on hiring tradesmen to carry out basic household tasks with the over 50s spending an average £331 over the 12-month period.

Many of the ‘Flat-pack Generation’ young people who can assemble a flat pack wardrobe but not sew a hem blame mum and dad for their failings. Almost one in five under 30s (18%) said their parents didn’t teach them basic household skills, while 10% say they are simply too busy to worry about such tasks.

The under 30s also admit they resent spending their spare time carrying out domestic chores (19%), with only 16% allocating five or more hours a week to them, compared to 27% of over 50s. Time isn’t the only issue for everyone though 17% said they prefer to leave things to the experts.

This point of view is reasonable argues Direct Line spokesperson Carmel McCarthy. "Calling in tradespeople for basic domestic repairs can be expensive but attempting to deal with things yourself without the right skills can be dangerous, and botched repairs can often make things worse," she said.

For those under 30s not hiring in the experts, it’s mum and dad who are coming to the rescue. In the last five years alone, 20% have asked their parents to help with painting and decorating, 16% with putting up shelves, 13% with sewing a hem and 12% bleeding a radiator.

But while the under 30s appear to lack many practical skills, they do have some advantages over their older counterparts: 16% of the over 50s admit to struggling to assemble flat pack furniture and nearly one in five (18%) cannot set their VCR or Sky Plus compared to 7% and 4% of under 30s.

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