(StatePoint) While you may take electricity for granted in today’s world, you might not in the future — that is, if current trends continue. As a new report highlights, the U.S. electrical workforce is aging out and not being sufficiently replaced — a trend which could have potentially devastating and far-reaching impacts nationwide. The report’s authors say that the time to fill the pipeline of new electrical workers and invest in training and retention is now.
The “Dark by 2050” report, available at kleintools.com/darkby2050, was released by Klein Tools, a family-owned and operated hand tools manufacturer, and The Accelerate Group, a Midwest-based strategic consulting and innovation firm focused on accelerating large civic change initiatives. The report indicates that if current trends and projections continue, by 2050, the U.S. will need an additional 462,183 electricians to meet demands.
However, without this major infusion of qualified electricians into the marketplace, maintenance, repair and construction of critical electrical equipment will severely suffer and cause damaging effects on nearly every facet of everyday life. Between 2030 and 2040, multiday power outages — and their rippling impacts — could indeed become the new normal for the majority of U.S. residents, leaving everyone from teachers and students to hospitals and fire departments in the dark for prolonged periods.
“There was a time we all thought the future would be filled with space-age technological advancements,” says Mark Klein, co-president of Klein Tools. “As it stands, instead of having flying cars, the U.S. could one day soon face challenges associated with shortening the duration of power outages and their very serious trickle-down effects.”
Various factors have been linked to the decline of the workforce, including a stigma surrounding blue collar professions, a lack of trade advocacy in high schools and a societal push toward four-year colleges steering young people away from skilled electrical work.
Efforts are being made however to address this growing skills gap. For example, Klein Tools has partnered with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as well as vocational-technical organizations across the country in order to help students prepare for a career in electrical and other skilled trades. It is also a founding partner of SkillsUSA’s National Signing Day, an event aimed at recognizing and rewarding students who pledge to pursue skilled trades careers. In addition, the manufacturer provides discounts for trade schools, and its representatives regularly make guest teaching appearances. To learn more about these initiatives, visit www.kleintools.com.
“Electrical professionals play a critical role in delivering safe, reliable power to homes, businesses, infrastructure, public services and institutions. What’s more, they are essential to a cleaner future of expanded renewable energy, greener buildings and more electric vehicles,” says Klein. “But unless we see a significant investment in recruiting and training in the field, we won’t have a workforce able to keep up with our nation’s growing electrical needs — or sustain life as we know it.”