The Future Is Bright for Electrical Workers
There has never been a better time to be an electrician. Good employment prospects, increasing pay levels and competition to attract top talent are all features of our industry.
The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 20% growth in the employment of electricians by 2022. The rising demand for skilled labor is fueled by a number of factors, including:
Aging Electrical Infrastructure: The electrical grid across the U.S. is showing its age. Reliability issues and obsolescence will create tremendous pressures to update transmission and generation infrastructure. This labor intensive process will require thousands of skilled linesmen and electricians.
Emergence of New Industries: The continued growth of alternative energy generation, including wind and solar power, requires skilled workers to commission the new generation systems and tie the systems into existing electrical networks.
Adoption of New Technology in Existing Industries: The adoption of automation and electronics across a wide range of industries necessitates skilled electrical workers to perform installation, operation and maintenance functions.
Given these factors, it is clear that the demand for electricians will continue to show healthy growth for the foreseeable future.
The other force contributing to a bright outlook for electrical workers is the shortage of skilled labor. A number of factors on the supply side have created the potential for a serious labor shortage in the near future. The demographics of the electrical industry mirror that of the nation. With a large number of baby boomers set to depart the workforce, significant numbers of new workers are required to fill this void. Additionally, the economic downturn that started in 2008 saw many employers curtail their hiring and apprenticeship training programs. These two factors will combine to reduce the number skilled electricians in the work force at a time of increasing demand.
Unlike unskilled labor, increasing the supply of skilled electricians takes time. Vocational education programs and long apprenticeship periods mean that it takes time to increase the pool of qualified workers.
IBEW-NECA has been aware of this impending skills shortage for quite some time and has taken steps to help address the gap. Our union is actively engaged in promoting the skilled trades as an attractive career option. Community outreach activities, including programs aimed at high school students, raise awareness of the benefits of a career in the skilled trades including high levels of job satisfaction, fair compensation and comprehensive benefits. IBEW-NECA offers apprenticeship training programs to help new workers develop the skills they need to succeed in the industry.
The coming skills shortage is a great opportunity to start your career in the skilled trades. Contact your local IBEW-NECA chapter to learn more about how you can become an electrician.
Learn more about what the IBEW/NECA organizations are doing to promote and advance education and learning in the electrical trades with our videos on electrical training