More electricians needed to satisfy new technology skills demand

The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) co-funded by the National Electrotechnical Training (NET) have recently released the findings of the 2019 Labour Market Intelligence report. The report gives an overview of the electrotechnical sector and the skills required to work in the sector at present and in the future.

TESP, a not-for-profit industry partnership, was put together by the Joint Industry Board (JIB), ECA, National Electrotechnical Training (NET), Unite the Union and SELECT. The partnership was created to support electrotechnical employers in order to develop and drive the industry’s skills agenda.

Concerns expressed about bridging the skills gap

The research, undertaken by Pye Tait Consulting, expressed concerns about the sectors ability to attract enough high quality new entrants into the industry to bridge the skills gap. Approximately 450 electrotechnical organisations with 19,000 employees were contacted and their findings suggest the UK will need an additional 8,500 to 10,000 electricians and 4,000 to 5,000 new apprentices over the next five years to satisfy forecasted growth.

The predicted skills increase in the sector is being driven by future and emerging technologies such as SMART technology, Wi-Fi and EV technology, as well as changes to regulations (18th edition) and public policy in areas such as fire safety and energy efficiency.

Employers believe that skilled electricians will need to do additional specialist training to evolve their knowledge and skills in-line with these new technologies. However, the following core technical skills are still perceived to be of the highest need across the sector:

  • Electrical installation
  • Electrical maintenance and repairs
  • Risk management and health and safety

Those Employers that were interviewed said that more must to be done to address the need for professional development of existing workers but to also encourage more electricians into the industry. Currently there are insufficient numbers of apprentices being recruited each year to meet the projected demands and even if an additional 5,000 new apprentices qualified by 2023 there would still be a skills shortfall by as many as 7,500 to 10,000 electricians.

Employers believe better recruitment can be achieved through increased industry engagement with schools and colleges and through other routes into the industry, for example those looking for a career change.

An ageing workforce and difficulties recruiting younger people puts further pressure on the sector

At present the majority of the UK’s workforce is between the age of 25 and 49 with only 15% being under 25 in England and Wales and 24% in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

An industry action plan is now in development by TESP to address the issues and recommendations raised in the report. Activity has already started to forge closer ties between industry and schools and colleges as well as activities promoting industry-recognised qualifications and the development of new careers resources. The action plan will also address how to better support small and micro businesses in the industry, as well as sole traders.

Ruth Devine, chair of TESP and managing director of SJD Electrical, said: “The TESP survey – the first of its kind in over a decade – offers not only a useful snapshot of where the electrotechnical industry and its skills-base are now but also a vital insight into the scale of the challenges we face in the immediate future. The organisations which form TESP all have a crucial part to play in shaping and coordinating the industry’s response to these challenges, and the priorities for action defined in the survey report represent an important first step. Future success will, however, also hinge on the active participation and support of other stakeholders, including Government departments and agencies, clients, training providers, other sector bodies and of course individual businesses – especially the small and micro businesses who make up our industry’s core.”

The report, which is the first in the last 10 years, provides in-depth analysis of the skills needed in the electrotechnical sector. It reinforces our belief that now, more than ever, is a great time to train in this exciting industry to carve out a career which has plenty of opportunities available to those that want to learn.

If you are interested in finding out about the courses we offer please visit our course finder page our simply view all our electrical courses. Alternatively please call to speak to a Course Adviser on 0800 856 4448, who will be happy to help.


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