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A bright future? The electrical industry in 2022

24th January 2022

A bright future? The electrical industry in 2022

It’s been an incredibly challenging couple of years for the electrical industry, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting work on an unprecedented scale. But what does the picture look like as we head towards a new year?

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ElectricalDirect

We surveyed electricians from across the UK to see how confident they feel for 2022 and what they anticipate will be the major challenges in the coming months.

This report reveals the main results from the research, including the degree of optimism, the major challenges for the industry and the most significant innovations, all according to UK electricians.

 

Current confidence

Overall

With Coronavirus continuing to affect everyday life, many electricians are naturally quite wary heading into the new year. Almost a quarter (22%) think their company will find business tough in 2022 and one in seven (14%) think the industry will struggle.

However, despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, there are a few green shoots of optimism.

A fifth (20%) of UK electricians think that next year will be a better year for their companies, and more generally, one in seven (14%) believe the industry will also be stronger.

Furthermore, almost one in five (19%) electrical companies are looking to hire new staff, suggesting a positive outlook.

Across the UK, the number of job vacancies in the Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply sector has remained fairly steady all year, hovering around the 6,000 mark, but this is 50% more than the equivalent period last year (4,000 listings in September-November 2020).

Job security also appears to be on the rise, with 21% of UK electricians saying they’re going to be worried about their position in 2022.

This could be because, across all trades, the number of redundancies is massively down year-on-year, with just 6,000 between August and October in 2021, but a staggering 26,000 at the same time 12 months earlier.

 

Other key results include:

·         18% think they’ll have more work in 2022

·         18% think they’ll be in a better financial position next year

·         19% think their company will have fully recovered from the pandemic in 2022

 

Age

Electricians aged 55 and over are the most likely to think that 2022 will be a better year than 2021 for their companies (33%). They are also the most confident that the industry as a whole will perform better (40%).

With this age group having the most experience of all our respondents, it’s reassuring to see that they are positive heading into the new year, as they will be well used to the ups and downs of a life in the trade.

Regarding job security, it is perhaps inevitable that younger workers (18-24s) are the most hopeful for some improvement (25%), as they are probably less likely to be in control of their own employment.

 

Gender

Male electricians are more likely than their female counterparts to think their company will hire more staff in 2022 (21% vs 14%).

They are also more likely to believe they will have completely recovered from the pandemic (20% vs 13%) and have better job security (22% vs 16%).

However, female electricians are more confident that they’ll be in a better financial position this time next year (19% vs 17%).

Unfortunately, for both genders, the number of workers in the trade is down, but the number of male electricians has dropped by a slightly higher percentage (4.1% vs 2.5%).

 

Region

Electricians in the North East of England are the most likely to be hiring new staff in 2022, with 43% anticipating a recruitment drive, slightly ahead of Northern Ireland (40%) and the East Midlands (33%).

Those in Yorkshire and the Humber are the most optimistic for better job security (40%), followed by East Anglia (38%) and the South East of England (28%).

However, electricians in the South West are the most likely to think 2022 will be a better year for their company (38%) and that they will have fully recovered from the damage of Covid (33%).

 

The challenges ahead

Challenges

Overall

The major concern for electricians as we head into the new year is the rising cost of materials (23%).

In October 2021, the prices of electrical equipment for the domestic market, such as wiring, appliances and generators, reached an all-time high, and the annual price growth rate has been positive for the last decade.

Just getting hold of materials is another worry (22%), as is the ability to recruit new staff (22%).

With Brexit and Covid seeing lots of international workers leave the industry, many companies are looking to take on new people, but lots of them are struggling to fill the vacancies they list.

It’s a problem across all sectors, with the number of unfilled jobs rising to record levels across the UK. In September-November 2021, there were more than 1.2m jobs available across the country, which is more than double the figure from last year (565,000).

With 17% of electricians saying they are worried about having too much work next year, recruitment is going to be crucial, so more needs to be done to encourage people to join the trade. Initiatives like the government’s Kickstart Scheme are helpful but are just a starting point.

 

Age

The main perceived challenge varies by generation, with recruitment (24%) the number one worry for millennial electricians (25-34s), ahead of getting hold of materials (24%) and people leaving the industry (22%).

For those aged 35-44, the rising cost of materials tops the list (22%), just beating recruitment (22%) and people moving careers (21%).

Getting hold of tools and equipment (24%) is the biggest concern for electricians aged 45-54, but the possibility of having too much work is not far behind (23%).

 

Gender

Male electricians consider the rising cost of materials the main challenge facing the industry in 2022 (24%), but increasing fuel costs (23%) are also an issue.

For female electricians, getting hold of the materials they need is the top worry (21%), as well as the price of buying them (19%).

 

Region

The most difficult region in which to source materials is the East Midlands, where almost two in five (38%) electricians say it is a major challenge, just ahead of Wales (32%) and London (25%).

Getting hold of tools and equipment is most challenging in East Anglia, where more than a third think they’ll struggle next year (35%), while electricians in the North East are most pessimistic about recruitment (35%).

 

The innovation game

Electrical

Overall

Electricians believe that wearable technology will be the most significant innovation for the industry in 2022, with 31% saying it could be the most impactful development.

This year, a study found that 40% of Brits own a wearable piece of tech, such as a smart watch or health tracker, and it seems that the electrical industry expects this to increase further.

It is joined at the top of the leader board by the Internet of Things (IoT - 31%), with interconnected devices, such as smart home technology, set to further increase their presence in everyday life.

In 2021, there were reportedly 31 billion IoT devices across the planet, which is a staggering 343% more than in 2018. Electricians clearly believe that this incredible growth is only set to continue in the new year.

Electricians also believe sustainable energy sources will be a major focus in 2022 (31%), as society seeks to make itself more environmentally friendly.

 

Age

Millennial electricians are most excited about advances in wearable technology (34%), whereas those aged 35-44 are most interested in the development of sustainable energy (32%).

However, the Internet of Things tops the list for 45-54 year olds, just ahead of 3D printing (33%), which appears to have exciting potential for both consumers and the industry.

 

Gender

While male electricians believe wearable technology (34%) will be the most significant innovation of 2022, female workers have most faith in augmented reality (37%) and the opportunities it could create in the industry.

 

For all of your electrical needs, from lighting to heating, visit: https://www.electricaldirect.co.uk/

 

References:

[1] Survey of 500 UK electricians conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ElectricalDirect in December 2021

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/unemployment/datasets/vacanciesbyindustryvacs02

[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peoplenotinwork/redundancies/datasets/redundanciesbyindustryagesexandreemploymentratesred02

[4] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/datasets/employeejobsbyindustryjobs03

[5] https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/pricemovementsinconstructionmaterialsandplanthireuk/2019to2021#data-sources-and-quality

[6] https://techjury.net/blog/internet-of-things-statistics/#gref

[7] https://www.statista.com/forecasts/1101101/wearable-devices-ownership-in-selected-countries

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