Industry urges next Government to invest in electrical skills essential for net-zero transition

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  Posted by: electime      6th June 2024

Leading industry voices are calling on the next Government to prioritise investment in the electrical skills necessary to achieve the UK’s net-zero goals. As electrification plays a pivotal role in the nation’s decarbonisation strategy, the demand for a skilled electrical workforce is becoming increasingly urgent. From heat pumps and solar panels to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the future economy will heavily depend on competent, qualified electricians to install and maintain these low-carbon technologies.

However, the industry faces a significant shortfall in skilled electricians. Despite over 20,000 aspiring electricians enrolling in classroom-based electrical courses annually, fewer than 10 per cent advance to apprenticeships. This gap leaves the majority without a clear path to industry entry, undermining the workforce’s expansion just when it is most needed.

“ECA Members are feeling the impact of a flawed skills system daily,” said Jane Dawson, Head of Public Affairs, ECA. “The disconnect between education and industry results in inefficiencies that hinder our progress towards net-zero. We need to ensure that aspiring electricians have clear, supported pathways into the profession, which means creating more apprenticeship opportunities and fostering stronger partnerships between educational institutions and industry.”

“The future of our economy and our ability to meet climate targets hinge on a skilled electrical workforce. It is imperative that the next Government recognises this and acts decisively”, she continues.

To address this urgent issue, a coalition of industry leaders, including Green Alliance, Energy Networks Association, RenewableUK, Joint Industry Board, EAL, and BESA, have endorsed the ECA’s Charter to #RechargeElectricalSkills. Introduced in November of last year, this Charter provides a comprehensive framework for future electrical skills development, aiming to build a robust, skilled workforce essential for the net-zero transition.

Key Pillars of the Charter:

  1. Placing Qualified Electricians at the Heart of Net Zero:
    • Ensuring that qualified electricians are central to the deployment and maintenance of low-carbon technologies.
  2. Increasing the Number of Qualified Electricians:
    • Expanding educational and training opportunities to boost the number of certified professionals in the field.
  3. Establishing a Stronger Skills Pipeline and Support into Employment:
    • Creating a seamless transition from education to employment through enhanced apprenticeship programmes and stronger industry ties.

As the general election campaign intensifies, apprenticeships and skills have emerged as a key battleground issue. The industry coalition urges the next Government to support these initiatives and invest in the infrastructure needed to foster a skilled electrical workforce. This investment is not just critical for achieving net-zero targets but also for ensuring a sustainable, resilient economy in the years to come.

To further amplify this call, ECA has launched a ‘Wall of Support’ featuring endorsements from leading industry voices, highlighting the widespread backing for this crucial initiative.