The future looks bright for Texas electricians. By 2050, the state is expected to have 47.4 million residents, and with this type of growth, more homes and businesses will be needed. As a result, Texas will need more electricians than ever before. In 2003, the electrical contractors magazine wrote about an impending shortage of electricians, warning that it was “too late to avoid it.” Now, almost 20 years later, it's clear they were right.
Employers have struggled to fill electrician positions for years, long before nationwide labor shortages hit the headlines. Like many economic problems, the shortage of electricians is the result of a mismatch between supply and demand. On the supply side, there are not enough young electricians entering the industry, as experienced electricians retire. On the demand side, more electricians will be needed to meet our nation's increasing electricity needs.
From a general perspective, there are three main causes behind the shortage of electricians: experienced electricians leaving the industry; younger generations not being as interested in skilled labor; and people using more electricity than before. Only 16.7% of high school and college students say they want to work in construction, compared to 76.5% who want to work in technology. Instead of attending trade school or pursuing an apprenticeship, young adults enroll in two- or four-year colleges and universities. Members of Generation Z, the generation behind Millennials now entering the workforce, are more likely to enroll in college than any generation before.
Gen Z workers also value flexible schedules and remote work, and those accommodations aren't always possible during tight jobsite schedules. Not every industry is experiencing a shortage of electricians in the same way. While overall demand for electricians is increasing, some industries are growing more than others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics always assumes that the supply of electricians will meet demand; however, the complex nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that this may not be true.
Excluding estimated increases due to pandemic recovery, projected growth rate for all occupations falls from 7.7% to 1.7%. High school recruitment is a key tactic to address the shortage of electricians; when high school students learn what it's like to be an electrician, they can get excited about the field and consider pursuing it as a profession. Another factor that demonstrates this point is the increase in residential electrical permits - currently 31.6% more than pre-pandemic times - with average permit approval taking up to 30 days. This does not take into account increased charging of residential and light commercial electric vehicles, battery storage and proliferation of solar integration.
The construction industry employs the largest number of electricians - about 537,700 people - and that figure is expected to grow by 11.3% over the next eight years. With these figures in mind, it's clear that while a shortage of skilled labor is a huge problem, acting in this way can help reduce its impact on your business.