With the number of smart homes, and smart devices, the demands on the electrical industry are surging and the job is changing at an unprecedented rate. As a result, there is an increasing demand for experienced professionals. But, while the demand for qualified electricians is going up, the ranks of the old guard electrician force is winding down. As a result, electrical companies are concerned there may be a shortage of experienced electricians in the near future.
Recently in Hawaii, the master electrician of an old and respected electrical firm passed away. No one in the company was qualified to take his place. The company was forced to close their doors. This incident is indicative of the potential electrician shortage problem due to a skills gap.
US Department of Labor statistics indicate that demand for electricians is growing at double the rate of most other professions. At the same time, a substantial number of electricians are retiring or leaving the industry. Research indicates that the number of experienced electricians has been falling at a rate that makes it necessary to take remedial steps to resolve the shortage to insure there will be an adequate number of electricians to meet future needs.
Continuing education is a critical component of the profession, whether it be online training or classroom-based. In addition, apprenticeship has been a long and respected method of garnering more professionals into the field, since an apprentice can watch an expert, work under the watchful eye of a pro, and ask questions. The hands-on component to apprenticeship that can’t be duplicated online. For these reasons, most electricians agree that on-the-job training remains a critical part of electrical training.
To further combat the future shortage, the National Electrical Contractor’s Association (NECA), The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Electrical Training Alliance have increased their training programs. They are investing two million dollars to help provide tools and scholarships for apprentices. Their aim is to lure the highest qualified candidates and provide the highest quality of electrical educational experience.
At the same time, a recent survey of over 200 electricians yielded that the current population of electricians worry that there will be fewer traditional electrician jobs available in the next five years--and they may be right. After all, no one really knows what direction smart technology will go next, or the effects of high-tech installations and smart homes on the industry, only that it will increase the need for capable, tech-savvy professionals. How to get these professionals and make sure they have the skills they need to be effective in the exploding smart movement is going to be a task that will challenge the entire industry.