March 14, 2018 / News
Electricians wanted. This has become a common dilemma Australia-wide.
It is growing increasingly apparent that there is a deficit of qualified electricians in Australia, with a significant increase in demand for electrical jobs and not enough workers available who possess the necessary skills. According to Indeed, electricians are one of the hardest roles to fill, with approximately 35 per cent of listings remaining unplaced after 60 days.
The main reason behind this shortage in electricians is the sharp decline in the number of electrical apprentices. The shine has come off trades and less and less young people are entering this field. With a clearly ageing workforce in the trades sector, the skills gap will be even more pronounced once the more seasoned trades professionals start retiring, and not enough new recruits lined up to replace them.
An increasing number of young people are opting for university instead, due to the seemingly better job prospects that are promised to them after attaining a degree. However, this is not necessarily the case. With an electrical trade, young people aren't bogged down by the long term debt that comes with a university degree. Also, electrical apprentices can start earning a wage right away, while they gain valuable industry knowledge and hands-on experience.
The stigma surrounding a career in a trade is also hindering young people from becoming electricians. Trades have a reputation for being blue-collar, low-skilled, and manual labour intensive, with unstable work and poor prospects for career progression. This negative stereotype associated with trades has resulted in its decreased popularity. Apprenticeships are often viewed as providing less opportunity than a university degree, which puts it at a disadvantage in terms of gaining new recruits.
Another factor contributing to the decreased number of people taking up a trade, is the perception that these jobs are the most likely to be replaced by robots in the near future. The uncertainty that this creates, discourages people from considering a career in a 'dying' industry, or to re-think their career path if they're already part of it. However, not all the skills associated with electricians can be automated, so the work that electricians do is safeguarded, and will remain a viable career in the foreseeable future.
Strategies To Reduce The Shortage
- Altering Perceptions
A strategy that has been proposed to improve the number of working electricians in the industry is to change the perceptions surrounding working in a trade. Currently, the negative image surrounding trades is reducing the pool of potential workers that could help to counteract the shortage of electricians. There have been calls for increased government investment into TAFEs, RTOs and relevant programs to help improve its public profile and show that vocational training is not inferior to a university education. Shifting the mindset of the general public, and clearing up common misconceptions has the potential to stimulate greater interest in entering electrical work, as well as other trades.
- More women in the industry
Another way to boost the number of qualified electricians, is to make it a more appealing career path for women. It is no secret that electrical work is usually very male-dominated, with females only making up a small percentage of electricians in Australia. Enhancing the attractiveness of being an electrician and making it more accessible to women, will help to increase the number of potential workers. Female tradies are already being invited to speak at schools, in order to encourage other young women to also consider a career in this not-so-conventional field. Growth in the number of women entering electrical work, will help to reduce the shortage of electricians.
These strategies may not fix the problem overnight, but it will help meet demand for electrical workers in the long term.
Electrical Jobs in Australia
- Renewable Energy
Thanks to the renewable energy boom in Australia, the demand for electricians has gone up significantly. The number of large-scale solar and wind farm projects already underway, or awaiting approval, has further highlighted the shortage of qualified electricians, as their skills and talent are required to ensure their completion. Work for electricians is abundant in this realm, with the potential for the creation of hundreds of jobs. With clean energy increasingly being pushed as the main source of power in the future, these projects will continue to be fertile ground for electrical work in Australia.
- Rail Infrastructure
The rise in infrastructure construction projects, in particular the new railway systems, has also contributed to an increase in demand for electricians. As the Australian population continues to swell and increasing pressure is placed on the public transport system, new rail lines and rail upgrades will be necessary to help alleviate the congestion. Electricians will play a significant role in delivering these projects on time and to standard. Current rail projects, such as the Sydney Metro Northwest and the Sydney Metro City and Southwest lines, need electrical workers to assist with construction.
Are you an electrician looking for work? Workfast Labour Hire has a number of electrical roles available across Australia. Contact Workfast Labour Hire today and we'll help you get connected with a job opportunity that is best-suited to your skills and qualifications!
Call 1300 824 403 or click here to sign up.