Supply and demand. It’s the very cornerstone of our financial, economic, and business lives. Essentially, it is the balance between something being available, and something being wanted. Currently, in Australia and around the world, there is a massive undersupply of good, competent, tradespeople. Builders are screaming out for good tradespeople of every colour and creed.
In particular, electrical workers/electricians (who make up 30% of the building and construction workforce) are in massively short supply, and those that are currently in the trade are run off their feet.
Why? Well, that’s an exercise in conjecture and the subject of many research papers - something we’ll get onto in a minute - but what does this mean for you? Well, like anything that is scarce, or rare, or in demand - it presents a massive, exciting, and potentially profitable opportunity for those who possess what is in demand. In this case - the skills and know-how (and licence) of an electrician in Australia. In short - becoming an electrician now could change your life.
Is There a Shortage of Electricians in Australia?
In short - yes. Electricians from east to west are run off their feet. The reasons behind this are numerous, and have been known and growing for some time. The two greatest factors are an aging workforce retiring (baby boomers are mostly all at retirement age or beyond), and an undersupply of new tradespeople joining the trade.
In fact, according to ABS data from 2022, nearly 80 per-cent of all businesses in Australia aren’t getting enough applicants to fill the roles they have.
And, in the trade services sector, the amount of job applications had dropped by over half from 2019 - mid 2022. Whilst this may look like a problem that COVID created, the problems were well and truly there prior to the pandemic.
One of the critical factors in this is (and has been for many years) a focus on higher, tertiary education, rather than that of a trade. Some argue that this is indeed the root cause, with many young people turning away from careers working with their hands to more white-collar roles such as law, marketing, or business.
Additionally, and compounding these effects, is the growth of new sectors of the electrical industry such as renewable energies, the changing face of technologies across the construction industry, as well as population booms in various cities - including here in Perth. This has created somewhat of a perfect storm for there to be a serious undersupply of electrical workers.
The Growing Demand for Electricians
Here’s the thing. Electricity is everywhere. That sounds like a bit of an obvious statement, but when you consider almost everything we use today in today’s world has a form of electricity attached to it, the importance of electricians begins to set in.
Not to mention - it’s only getting more and more important. From a simple light switch, through to the most complex automation systems on mining sites, an electrician is critical in the installation, operation, and maintenance of these systems.
In fact, the Australian Government’s Labor Market Insights (soon to be Jobs and Skills Australia) predicts a 10% growth in the industry over the next few years.
And it’s no secret as to why. With industries ranging from construction through to renewable energy like solar and wind, new technologies like hydrogen, plus manufacturing, mining, gas and water - they are in massive demand everywhere.
And that simply isn’t going to change as the world turns on more and more renewable power stations, renewable energy installations, hydrogen technology and more and more devices move to smart automation.
Career Opportunities for Electrical Apprentices
Don’t worry - it’s not all running cables and crawling through roof spaces (thankfully!). There are a myriad of different careers you can take on as an electrical apprentice - and the future of any apprentice is immensely bright (if you’ll excuse the pun).
Immediately, as you are completing your apprenticeship there are numerous awards and accolades you can go for - from NECA Apprentice of the Year awards, WA Training Awards, HIA Apprentice Awards just to name a couple.
There might even be some within the company you might work for - even if that’s just the boss shouting lunch at the end of a big week.
But, as your career progresses you can certainly set your sights higher - running your own business, specialising in a particular area such as home automation, or green energy, or even furthering your studies and using your apprenticeship as a pathway into university to do electrical engineering or mechatronics.
You could even move overseas and pick up almost right where you left off - you may need to do a bridging course to learn how another country’s specific systems work - but it means you’re ready to go almost the minute you hit the ground. The reality is, with an electrical apprenticeship, the opportunities are nearly endless.
Benefits of Becoming an Electrician
But, let’s be real here - we don’t work for nothing. Pay is such a big reason why anyone decides to get up in the morning and head to site. And it is one of the biggest reasons you should look at becoming an electrician. The median pay for jobs across Australia sits at just a nudge under $1,600 a week.
For a sparky, that’s a little over $2,100 a week. And if you’re in the mines on FIFO, or working underground, that number balloons to an average of over $3,000 - a week. That’s nothing to be sniffed at for sure.
There are numerous other advantages too - including job security. with the aforementioned lack of supply and massive demand - you’ll likely always be in a job - no matter what. And, as mentioned previously, that job and those skills (and licence) can go with you everywhere.
And to top it off, you can have ultimate job flexibility. Working FIFO can mean a week on, a week off - so plenty of time to hit the beach or catch up with mates. Running your own business means you get to work when you want, choose your clients, do the work you want to do. And not to mention even having weekends to yourself.
You’ll have a great paycheque, job security - and the flexibility to work hours which see you overall having more time off. What’s not to love?
So as you can see, there has never been a better time to become an electrical apprentice. It pays well, there’s amazing job security, future growth in the industry and a swathe of different opportunities and career options. And of course, you’ll even just having time to yourself when you want or need it. An electrical apprenticeship just makes sense.