Twenty years ago, NECA predicted an electrician shortage. While demand for electricity escalates, the shortage of qualified electricians worsens. A January 2022 article by Border States notes that the primary underlying causes of this shortage include experienced electricians leaving the field, fewer people entering the field and the lingering effects of COVID-19. The Associated General Contractors of America also predicted that electricians are among the hardest jobs to fill.
According to the Pew Research Center, early retirement of electricians increased in 2020 and 2021, spurred in part by COVID-19. While that trend is slowly passing, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting more workers in 2030 than in 2020, the fact remains that by 2030, all baby boomers will reach age 65 or beyond, draining the pool of qualified electricians.
Compounding this exodus is the lack of interest in skilled labor among the millennial and Gen Z populations. More than 75% of high school and college students want to work in technology, and are more likely to attend college than pursue a skilled labor job. The desire for jobs with flexible hours and potential for remote work often steers them away from trade jobs.
The industry needs to do more than merely replace departing baby boomers. Because electricity consumption is growing as technology focuses on vehicles, devices and buildings reliant on electric power, electrician jobs are growing exponentially.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth of electrician jobs by 9.1% from 2020 to 2030, which is higher than the 7.7% growth rate expected for all other occupations. Of all the industries relying on electricians, construction could be hit the hardest by a shortage, because it already employs the highest number of electricians and its expected growth rate over that same period is 9.9%.
Prepandemic job projections based on 2019 data predicted there needs to be 808,000 electricians by 2030. While the need for electricians continues, more recent estimates have dialed back that number to 795,700. As the BLS stated, “Demand is the key determinant in explaining future jobs.”
Conversely, Rewiring America believes demand will increase, estimating that more than 1 billion machines will need to be installed or replaced in the near future. According to CEO Ari Matusiak, “The scale that is needed to meet the moment when it comes to our climate goals—but also to deliver savings to households and to reinvest in our communities—is pretty massive. And that requires people who know how to do that work.”
In answer to the looming shortage, recruitment at the high school level, scholarships to vocational schools, apprenticeships and skilled labor staffing agencies are a few of the tactics being incorporated to encourage an influx of new electricians.
About The Author
Lori Lovely is an award-winning writer and editor in central Indiana. She writes on technical topics, heavy equipment, automotive, motorsports, energy, water and wastewater, animals, real estate, home improvement, gardening and more. Reach her at: [email protected]