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The UK will need up to 15,000 more skilled electricians in the next five years

The UK will need up to 15,000 more skilled electricians in the next five years

16 April 2019

The UK is heading for a skills crisis in the electrical sector due to the drive for greener technology.

The country will need up to 15,000 more skilled electricians in the next five years to cope with demand for new developments such as smart meters and electric cars, according to a new study. At their current levels, the industry’s apprenticeship and training programmes will fall well short of the target, says the report by the Electrotechnical and Skills Partnership (TESP). 

Not only are the numbers insufficient, many employers believe their training programmes are not equipping electricians with the new generation of skills that will be required in a low carbon economy.

Employers need to commit to investing in training 

At Develop Training, we have long campaigned for more investment and commitment to training across the utilities and construction sector. We have pointed out the shortage of operatives with smart meter installation skills. We have also questioned how the transition from petrol and diesel to electric cars will be implemented if there are not enough suitably skilled electricians to install the necessary infrastructure.

So, we fully back the TESP in warning the industry and stakeholders about the scale of the problem and in its new action plan to confront the issue, including development of an action plan including promoting careers in the industry to young people. 

Commitment is needed from a wide range of stakeholders

We are especially keen on its suggestion that the solution is to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, including training providers such as ourselves, to make a concerted commitment to put adequate training in place. As well as industry, schools and further education, we also need to include government and sector organisations.

DTL has a wide range of electrical courses

At DTL, we have developed a wide range of courses to provide the next generation of electricians with the electrical skills they will need for the years ahead. We are also an approved apprenticeship provider under the Apprenticeship Levy programme. We are absolutely committed to helping the industry and all its stakeholders to address this problem before it is too late.

It goes without saying that we all need businesses in the electrical sector and others who employ electricians to invest in the right kind of training and apprenticeship programmes to deliver what the country needs. That should involve not only the big players but also the small and micro firms, of which there are thousands in the electrical sector.

Green technologies have accelerated in recent years

As well as smart meters and electric cars, the UK needs to gear up for other growing green technologies, such as solar energy, wind farms and biofuels. The pace of change is likely to accelerate driven by government targets on carbon emissions and advances in technology.

15,000 new electricians will be required to manage demand

The report estimates there are around 340,000 skilled electricians working in electrical companies and for other kinds of employers, such as facilities managers. Its authors reckon that at least 12,500 to 15,000 new electricians will be required to manage demand fuelled by green technology.

That number is likely to be even higher because the study doesn’t account for skilled people retiring or leaving the industry. As DTL has frequently pointed out, an ageing workforce is one of the main causes of the skills crisis in the utilities and construction sectors.

Are apprenticeships the answer to attracting a new generation of skilled workers?

Attracting a new generation into the industry via apprenticeships seems like an obvious solution, but the truth is the number of apprentices currently being trained is simply not enough. Even if there was a big surge in new apprenticeship programmes, we would still fall far short of what is required.

Added to that, investment in training and apprenticeships is at risk from possible economic downturn, so getting to grips the skills crisis will take a huge commitment from the industry and stakeholders.

But that commitment is vital, not just for the industry but for the environment and to create new jobs in green industries replacing old ones being lost in fossil fuel industries.

DTL provide bespoke electrical programmes for big-name industry employers

At DTL, we are ready to play our part. We provide programmes suitable for all kinds of electrical firms and employers – from bespoke training delivered on customers’ sites to an extensive calendar of courses at any one of our seven training centres nationwide. Click here to search our courses.

You can download the TESP report as a PDF here 

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