Could an electrician skill shortage impact Australia’s energy future?

With Australia's growing adoption of solar power and increasing energy demands, it appears to be a great time for local electricians. However, recent reports suggest that a skill shortage might put the lights out on several future schemes.

So, where is this skill shortage and what impact could it make moving forward?

Lack of new generation tradespeople

As the baby boomer generation begins to approach retirement, industries such as energy require the next generation of talent to shine through.

As the baby boomer generation begins to approach retirement, industries such as energy require the next generation of talent to shine through. With this in mind, data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) paints a poor picture – just 268,600 people undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship last year.

Discussing these figures, Master Electricians CEO Malcolm Richards explained that the introduction of new programs and technology in the solar sector requires new talent.

"Just a few days ago we saw the South Australian Government announce a scheme to provide 50,000 solar panels and batteries, which will obviously rely heavily on local tradespeople to deliver the scheme," he said. "MEA welcomes government initiatives as well as investment in new technologies in the energy sector, but we need the tradies in place to deliver these programs."

Record year for renewables

This skill shortage comes at a particularly bad time, especially with the vast number of solar projects up and running recently highlighted by the Clean Energy Council.

2017 saw around 50 large-scale renewable energy projects either under construction or securing funding, with the potential for over 5,000 new jobs and 4,670 MW of new generation capacity. When you compare this to 2016 when just 264 MW of new capacity was created, electricians and those in the energy sector have had a very busy 12 months.

Looking closer at Australian households and businesses, over 1,000 MW of new small-scale capacity was installed in 2017. This is buoyed by growing consumer adoption of solar energy and the significant financial benefits. 

Solar energy is a major growth area of the Australian economy.Solar energy is a major growth area of the Australian economy.

Taking advantage in 2018

Solar shows no sign of slowing down – especially with South Australia and Victoria state governments committing to long-term renewable energy targets for the coming years. As such, for electricians and other energy professionals with the right skillsets, 2018 should be another strong year.

Skill shortages could have an impact in the future, but with a dedicated workforce in play and ongoing encouragement from within the industry, solar energy will continue to be a great source of employment. 

To learn more about the services we provide in the trades and industrial spaces, check out the Baytech site here.