Nearly 6 in 10 electrical contractors say that the use of agency workers – which some firms say include unqualified labourers – has led to them struggling to compete for contracts, according to the ECA’s research.
While 2 in 3 businesses with 30 or less employees said there was no longer a ‘level playing field’ in the tendering process due to the extensive use’ of agency workers.
However, over 4 in 10 firms responding to the survey still recognised the importance of agency workers. Many electrical contractors said they used agency workers as a ‘necessary’ source of flexible labour to meet their needs in the industry.
Schools and apprenticeships
Over 6 in 10 electrical firms say that schools ‘don’t understand’ the benefits apprenticeships can offer to students.
Just 10 per cent of electrical contractors said that schools understood that apprenticeships can be more suitable for many students, when compared to continued academic study. At the same time, less than a quarter of firms said that schools were ‘helping’ students make the right career choice.
Overall, nearly 6 in 10 firms responding said that schools career advice was either ‘not very helpful’ or ‘very unhelpful’ in providing guidance to students with an ‘aptitude towards electrical work’.
Over 6 in 10 small electrical contractors say they are facing a skills shortage in the workplace, according to the research.
The firms, all with 31-100 employees, say they anticipate the problem remaining in 3 years time, leading to fears over the UK’s future productivity.
While nearly 4 in 10 electrical firms with 30 or fewer employees say they are also facing a skills shortage, rising to nearly 50% of these contractors in 18 months time.
To tackle this growing skills crisis across the industry, survey respondents are calling for:
- Financial support for employers to train – 74%
- Support to recruit and train a young apprentice – 62%
- Upskilling support for part qualified operatives – 46%
- More flexible provision from colleges and training providers – 46%
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