Report Sees 'Dire Societal Fallout' From Electrical Workforce Gap

The US is on pace to have a severe shortage of electricians within a decade, which would have major impacts on the energy grid.

Amid the rapid rise of renewable energy usage, electric vehicles and modern building systems, the maintenance needs for the United States’ power grid continue to escalate. That requires the need for a lot more skilled electricians, and according to a new report, demand will soon outpace supply.

A new research report from hand tools maker Klein Tools and consulting firm The Accelerate Group described severe shortages in the US electrical workforce gap for the near- and long-term. The aptly named “Dark by 2050” report said that to meet the need of a growing power infrastructure, the US will need an additional 224 thousand electrical workers by 2030 and will need to sustain and grow that figure every year through 2050.

But the outlook is grim, as the report projects that the number of electricians and line workers will actually shrink 28 percent from its current estimation of 880 thousand jobs by 2050 due to age, attrition and a lower new entrant rate. The research found that the gap between the electrical workforce needed and the workforce available will be 25 percent by 2030 and balloon to 45 percent by 2050.

If these projected gaps come to fruition, the report said it would lead to more frequent and longer-duration power outages due to aging infrastructure and idled electrical equipment. And this would have a cascading effect on communications, water supply, transportation and even using fuel-based backup power generation, and these impacts would escalate by 2050.

The report said that if these projections are to be reversed, the US must train between 107 thousand and 224 thousand new electrician and line worker apprentices between now and 2030.

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