Klein Tools, Lincolnshire, Ill., released the results of their annual State of the Industry survey on April 17. The survey, completed by 600 electricians (of whom 40 percent were union members and 60 percent were nonunion), highlights the industry’s continued concerns over the scarcity of skilled workers (particularly younger workers). Though, it also points to training measures that could be utilized to build workers’ skills.  

According to the survey results, approximately seven in 10 electricians are concerned about the skills gap in the U.S. labor market and nearly all of the respondents, 95 percent, think more should be done to promote skilled trades as a career option for young people.

Perhaps because of this concern, many veteran electricians are volunteering their time to take trainees under their wings. Forty-six percent of respondents had voluntarily mentored or trained apprentices or students in the past year. This includes a majority of union members (52 percent) and two in five non-union members (43 percent).

Of the volunteers, three in five did so in a structured setting, most commonly through an apprentice program, but also through trade schools, high schools or an official organization. However, the survey also points to the potential of mentorships and on-the-job training to help prepare workers for the trade. Nonunion electricians were more likely to volunteer outside of a structured setting, working with on their own with people they know.

Survey respondents also valued on-the-job training as a means to gain necessary skills in the electrical trade. Seventy-eight percent of electricians who believe there is an electrician shortage agree that more on-the-job training would create a more experienced workforce.

This is unsurprising as five in six respondents or roughly 83 percent of reported that on-the-job training was the most valuable part of their education. In addition to their on-the-job training, 75 percent of respondents reported having received classroom training, while reports of web-based electrical training as increased for the second consecutive year.

More than 600 union and non-union electricians were surveyed for the Klein Tools State of the Industry survey by Russell Research, an independent survey research firm in Rutherford, N.J. Russell Research conducted 201 online interviews from Jan. 20–26, 2015; 200 online interviews from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5, 2016; and 200 online interviews from Jan. 10-18, 2017, to secure a nationally significant representation. Forty percent of respondents were union members and 60 percent were not.

For more about the survey results, visit: www.kleintools.com/2017survey1