How to tackle the skills shortage in the electricity sector

Åsa_Gabrielsson_EYCDespite relatively high unemployment, the national skills shortage persists. Many employers are struggling to find the right skills. The electricity industry is one of many affected and is actively working to reverse the trend. We caught up with Åsa Gabrielsson, Operations Manager at ECY, the central professional body of the electricity industry, to talk about the current situation and how they are working to change the future.

As society becomes digitalised and electrified, quality skills are also needed – not least in the electrical industry. Thousands of installers are required for the upcoming transition, but the right skills seem to be lacking. ECY works to ensure that Sweden’s electrical education programmes provide the quality the industry requires in order to recruit the right skills. Going forward, they want to see a change.
– We have had a skills shortage for a long time, says Åsa Gabrielsson, explaining that this is linked to the industry’s favourable economic growth, which has contributed to society making many investments that require installation skills.
Åsa believes that one of the reasons for the skills shortage is that the public’s perception of what you actually do as an electrician is in need of an update. Working as an electrician today is not what it used to be.
– Electricians are a skilled profession; you can be broad or niche in your expertise. The industry offers a smorgasbord of professional and development opportunities, she says.

Room for innovation with Agenda 2023

As the fossil-free society progresses, the forecast is that the skills shortage will increase further. But change can also be synonymous with new opportunities – there is a chance for innovation and participation in the transition towards a more sustainable planet.
– We have a government that has initiated both Agenda 2030 and an electrification strategy, which shows the way towards energy efficiency and fossil-free fuels. This means that installation expertise will be a key competence for this transition, in which, for example, the installation of charging stations for electric cars and climate-smart property systems will make a contribution and provide job opportunities for the industry, Åsa says.
Agenda 2023 also opens the door to completely new areas of work – everything from system integration and investments in renewable energy in the transport sector to work on the sustainable heating of homes. It also enables collaboration between different sectors, which in turn fosters innovation and makes room for new job roles and skills development.

Recruitment with the future in mind

Among other things, ECY provides, in collaboration with the Swedish Public Employment Service, electrical engineering validation to enable a faster route to work for individuals from other countries with industry knowledge. They also work actively to influence electrical training programmes and education systems via various platforms and offer skills development activities for supervisors and teachers.
ECY works to disseminate information about the industry’s various professional roles, with the aim of increasing knowledge and attracting more people into the industry
– This is an industry that can suit many different types of personalities and competences. We try to create more paths into the industry. It’s important to enable people who want to change careers in adulthood. Gender equality is also something the industry is working actively to promote. Equal workplaces are more profitable and attractive to future labour, Åsa Gabrielsson says.
The opportunities in the electrical industry are endless. Electricians are a profession of the future with potential for creativity and innovation. There is room for expertise in everything from renewable energy to electricity networks. With a thriving labour market, there are also good chances to contribute to change – for real.

ECY is taking part at Elfack in Gothenburg, 9-12 May 2023. They will be contributing to the event on various presentation stages with interviews, seminars and professional competitions that highlight the supply of skills and future recruitment processes.

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