Bridging the Electrician Labor Gap in the Evolving Energy Landscape: 5 Strategies for Success

By Sep 11, 2023
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Electrification is crucial for achieving net zero goals, but a shortage of skilled electricians is slowing us down. Without them, we risk grid strain, infrastructure upgrades and missing sustainability targets.

Electrification is crucial for achieving net zero goals, but a shortage of skilled electricians is slowing us down. Without them, we risk grid strain, infrastructure upgrades and missing sustainability targets.

Thanks to skilled electricians, our electrical systems continue to evolve—from its first use in industrial applications to its introduction into our homes to today’s growth of renewable energy. Decarbonization, interactive power grids and net-zero commitments accelerate demand for more distributed energy sources. Skilled electricians are essential for managing these complex electrical systems required for achieving net zero.

Fueled by government funding like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and investments in new technologies, the industry continues to grow at record levels. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, 83% of the energy capacity added in 2022 was produced by renewables. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects electrician jobs to grow 9.1% from 2020–2030, fueled by the acceleration of digital devices, electric vehicles and smart homes and buildings.

Logically, there is a higher demand for electricians and contractors whose role drives continued electrical infrastructure transformation—installing devices connecting to the internet of things (IoT), supporting smart grids, and maintaining renewable energy systems like solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage systems. For example, the rapid adoption of EVs requires extensive charging infrastructure and specialized electrician services for installation and maintenance. In fact, three times more EV charging ports were added last year than the previous three years combined. 

So, with all this talk about the pace of change, the term “speed bump” is very appropriate. Speed is essential to ensuring the grid can support new technologies and sustainable, renewable energy. Still, the shortage of skilled electricians could very well extend project deadlines and risk significant delays. 

The obstacle on the path

So why the mismatch? What are the reasons for the disparity between electrician supply and demand?

Electricians are retiring, leaving a substantial experience gap in their wake. The pandemic accelerated these retirements significantly, and with the youngest of the baby boomer generation being 65 or older by 2030, their absence will resonate and leave behind a workforce lacking the required skills.

Younger generations show less interest in pursuing careers in skilled labor, gravitating toward other fields like technology and finance. In fact, less than 17% of high school and college students plan to work in the construction industry, placing almost dead last in a ranking of 22 other industries. The electrical industry must address this shortage to ensure sustained growth and help society reach its climate goals.

Five strategies for success

To bridge today’s electrician labor gap, here are five strategies you might want to consider:

1. Localize the supply chain

Efficient workforce management is critical for meeting project deadlines. Localizing the supply chain offers better control over material availability, ensuring your workforce can proceed without unnecessary delays. Knowing when equipment will arrive enables effective planning and resource allocation.

2. Optimize equipment for efficiency

Prioritize equipment that emphasizes installation, commissioning, and maintenance efficiencies to make the most of your workforce on-site. Choosing equipment that minimizes downtime, requires fewer worker hours for installation and reduces the need for frequent maintenance will streamline operations.

3. Strengthen safety protocols

Safety must be a top priority in any electrical project. You can minimize accidents and avoid workforce downtime by implementing rigorous safety measures. Comprehensive safety training, adherence to industry best practices and proper equipment usage are essential for preventing injuries and costly outages.

4. Forge strategic partnerships

Collaborating with other companies in the industry can lead to mutual benefits. Partnering with organizations possessing complementary skills allows you to take on more extensive and diverse projects. Strategic partnerships and services can help bridge the skills gap and open doors to new markets. 

5. Embrace the electrician trade opportunity

With electrification on the rise, the demand for skilled electricians continues to soar. Embrace this opportunity by sharing how the electrician trade is a rewarding and essential profession. Engaging with schools, communities and outreach programs can inspire younger generations to consider a career in skilled labor. Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives can also attract a diverse and talented pool of electricians to the industry. 

A challenge and an opportunity

The electrician shortage is a big challenge and calls for strategic action. It’s also an opportunity to invest in human capital and empower a new generation of electricians to lead the sustainability charge. Collaboration between industry stakeholders, including electrical contractors, unions and trade associations, can help turn the tide and address these shortages to build a resilient, diverse workforce ready to power the future. These rewarding opportunities will allow people to make their mark on the wor





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