Due to the exciting choices available, the electrical industry offers jobs that many people choose. For simplicity’s sake we will use the phrase Electrical Industry to cover off the more accurate term of “Electro-Mechanical Engineering”. Also, due to a wide variety of qualifications and standards throughout the world, we’ll focus on those that fit the UK domestic and commercial market. As this is such a wide ranging subject matter we’ll begin by sticking to the main area first and come back to the ‘add-ons’ later.
Essentially, we see two distinct forms of entry into the electrical market. Initially there’s the more traditional apprenticeship approach, but equally there is now an alternative, suited to those who are keen to enter later in their life. There are two sets of people for consideration firstly the ‘Junior Entrants’ and secondly the ‘Mature Entrants’.
Mature students, or entrants, often train so that they can become self-employed and work on their own projects without having to pay wages to external electricians. However, people who join as junior entrants like the fact that they can join a recognised firm to pick up the bulk of their practical and work based skills. This could be a young apprentice’s first position since leaving school, so it will be necessary to pick up supplementary working skills.
Clearly these two options have both differing training styles and methods of entry. The Junior Entrants syllabus involves NVQ/SVQ’s as well as proving working skills. An NVQ qualification would need to be obtained as part of the training program. New employees gain the necessary course work and testing elements through an apprenticeship or some form of suitable work program.
Mature Entrants do not appear to seek the NVQ element but instead they go after the most commercially suitable qualifications. For example by concentrating on those qualifications aimed at giving them the best return from their training costs. Although this may offer quicker and more commercial options, it does reduce the official requirements set for certain areas of the industry.
Salaries are often simply broken down to those that relate to self -employed people and those in general employment. Whilst self-employed people can choose the hours that they work, we assume that they are working full time for the purpose of this review. It is recognised that competence and qualifications add to income levels as well as experience and information gained.
The basic salary for Junior Entrants tends to start around the 12-15k mark, but rises regularly to around 30k with the right level of experience. ‘Mature Entrants’ salaries though are often more difficult to work out, but can rise to 70.000 and above as reported in UK newspapers. Regardless of all that is the need to cover off additional costs such as tools, clothes and even a vehicle and all that goes along with that. Earmarked within this is the need to cover additional expenses such as accountancy or insurance. In the UK there is a lot of work for electrical professions due to a short fall of current skilled people. Without a doubt, the market would allow for some people to work a full seven days a week. It should be understood that the 70-100k figures that we see thrown around in newspapers are not easily achieved, and would either require working long hours or having assistants (or both.)
To be fair, most Junior and Mature electricians experience very different working hours to each other. ‘Junior Entrants’ would normally be required to work Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. That aside the Mature market is equally affected by when their clients are available – this is especially so within the domestic sector, where evening and weekend work predominates. Although by testing and installing various business systems, many self-employed electricians manage to work during a normal working week.
Once a Junior Entrant is employed within a company, then any follow-on knowledge they gain is often down to the employers’ activity as opposed to anything else. However, many mature entrants gain extra skills by learning those trades such as gas and plumbing work. If they are working mostly in the domestic market, this makes it easier for them to take on larger jobs across a range of disciplines (without having to sub-contract.)
A new trade example is that of the ‘Green Engineer’. This new service to the industry could fit into the overall skill-set of an electrician. The opportunity to provide both employment and potential service contracts, especially in the UK and the EEC sectors, mean that this area is of interest to both Junior and Mature electricians.