Tackling the electrical skills shortage in the UK
Electrical skills are in decline in the UK, with the electrical industry being one of the worst affected by an increasing shortage of trained workers.
The latest UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey (ESS), published last year, examined the experiences and practices of over 91,200 employers in the UK.
It found that, although job vacancies had actually increased by 42 per cent in the two years since the previous report, the number of trained workers had fallen ten per cent.
This skills shortage is most pronounced in the electrical, gas, water and construction sectors. The report found that more than a third of vacancies in these hardest-hit industries was due to a lack of skilled workers.
Because of a dearth of new recruits, older workers are increasingly being relied upon as demand increases from the construction sector for trained workers in the skilled trades. This demand is only set to grow as the UK comes further out of recession and the sustained economic growth continues.
So it’s worrying that a report by the Joint Industry Board found that in 2005 there were 20,518 registered electricians but by 2012 this figure had fallen to 17,986.
So how can we tackle the shortage of electrical skills in the UK?
There are plans by the Government to introduce an Apprenticeship Levy to counteract the skills shortage in the UK across all industries.
This levy was announced in last year’s Summer Budget, and is due to come into effect in April next year.
Apprenticeships are key to tackling the skills shortage in the UK. As well as being beneficial for the employee, apprenticeships are also great for the employer. Providing workplace apprenticeships allows employers to address the loss of their skilled workers by passing on those skills to a new, enthusiastic generation. Taking on an apprentice can be a savvy investment for the future, especially in industries where the skills gap is widening.
And companies can help tackle the skills shortage in other ways too.
Firstly, companies can invest in training their staff – give them more and better skills
The 2012 JIB report mentioned above also found that a large number of workers aged between 27 and 56 left the industry between 2005 and 2012. These are workers in their prime who are likely to have the key skills needed to boost the industry.
So training and development of key staff to increase retention rates is also vital to revitalising the industry and keeping people with electrical skills happy in their roles. Related to this is also the need to encourage workers who have left the industry to return. This could be done through attractive incentives such as pay, training and development.
Another area that employers can look at to increase electrical skills within the industry is to open up to girls and women. This is a major demographic which is underdeveloped in traditionally male dominated careers. A mindset needs to be developed in schools and among employers that working in the electrical industry – and construction and engineering in general – can be rewarding and well-paid. Young people, both boys and girls, need to be shown the rewards of working in the sector, as well as being offered the opportunities to do so.
At DRF, we are committed to sparking an interest in the electrical industry among potential new recruits, as well as to developing and training our current staff. We ensure that all our workers, however long they’ve been with us, are not only fully trained for their job but are also given the chance to develop their skills and strengths.
As demand for electrical skills continues to increase, we are joining thousands of other companies in the industry in doing our bit to meet the needs of the industry by making sure our staff are highly competent, knowledgable and professional.