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Where are we going to get 50,000 electricians to install 3-phase systems?

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Patrick Moore's picture
Proprietor Caversham Global Trading Ltd

My first brush with the power industry was in early 1991, just before "Vesting Day" in the UK. At the time, I was working for Price Waterhouse, who were developing a system called the...

  • Member since 2022
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  • Aug 26, 2022

About a year ago, we had a 2nd generation smart meter fitted at home. At the time, the engineer was only prepared to connect a new electricity meter to the smart box, saying that he "didn't have the right connectors to do the gas meter".

Last week, we finally got our connected gas meter, which was installed by a very personable and chatty engineer. In the course of our conversation, he dropped something of a bombshell: over the next few years, the industry needs approximately 65,000 electricians who are prepared to work on 3-phase systems. A lot of this is driven by the rollout of high-speed charging points for electric vehicles, which typically use 3-phase power.

Right now, the industry has approximately 15,000 electricians who are prepared to deal with 3-phase, leaving us with a shortfall of 50,000! One of the negative impacts of Brexit is that, in the main(s), these 50,000 electricians will need to be home-grown.

That's the UK situation. I'm curious to know whether it's any different elsewhere in the world....?

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Patrick Moore's picture
Patrick Moore on Aug 26, 2022

Is this a problem in your country, or a UK-specific issue?

Larry Eisenberg's picture
Larry Eisenberg on Aug 30, 2022

Hi Patrick: Excellent question. The renewable energy revolution will change the world's economic landscape. The coming change will be inevitable as renewable energy is cheaper than any other source, hands down. I have argued for some time that the coming change will create a countless number of excellent middle class jobs that are the province of the building trades.  Electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, welders, etc. will be in very high demand, and will command salaries that easily qualify as middle class wages.  We need to beef up apprentice programs and community college equivalent trade training programs as a way to provide the necessary education.  The other interesting issues is where will these people come from to occupy all of these jobs.  If young people who might normally make this type of career choice are not interested, the answer that some people will not like is immigrants.  There is a huge demand for jobs in the immigrant population,and what could be more perfect than to train them in the necessary skills for these high demand jobs.  In the US, the agriculture industry is facing this issue head on.  There are simply not enough young US citizens who aspire to working in a field tending to crops.  The answer is immigrants.  But many people who oppose open immigration have a hard time connecting the dots.  We need more people across many industries who are interested, and would be happy doing these many jobs.  We need to create the proper pathways and training mechanisms to allow this to occur in any country.

Patrick Moore's picture
Patrick Moore on Sep 1, 2022

Hi Larry,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Britain has, of course, recently made it much more difficult for skilled workers from the European Union to come here and work. I suspect this is one of the reasons why the shortfall in 3-phase electricians is so stark.

I agree that we will need to create far more apprentice programs, and find a way to encourage many more 16-year-olds to pursue that route, rather than going to university and studying less practical subjects.

The final point, as highlighted by Larry Hooks in the post below, is that of salary. In fact, a typical 3-phase electrician in the UK already earns around £60K per year. Some who "chase the money" can earn as much as £120K per year. One might imagine that, if that fact were more widely known, the recruitment issue might resolve itself relatively quickly.....

larry hooks's picture
larry hooks on Aug 31, 2022

The typical CEO earns more in one day than a jouneyman electrician does in one year. Reverse the role and you will have plenty of 3 phase electricians. 

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