Lots of people choose a career within the electrical industry because it both appeals and motivates them. Although often assigned to as ‘Electro-Mechanical Engineering”, we will simply refer to this as the Electrical Industry. 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. By starting on the main subjects and checking the ‘add-ons’ later on we can review the centre of the electrical industry.
We consider that there are two ways to enter 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. To begin with we have the ‘Junior Entrants’ and then we have the ‘Mature Entrants’.
Many Mature Entrants enter the market so they don’t have to rely on others, especially when they can work on their own building ideas and not have to pay for anyone else to help them. Those who join as Junior Entrants, on the other hand, appear to do so with the aim of joining an established electrical firm – in order to gain further qualifications and experience whilst picking up practical and other work-place skills. During their first years in the working environment, a young apprentice, or junior entrant, will have a host of additional skills to learn.
Entry has two separate approaches to teaching. It is the involvement with NVQ’s (or SVQ’s for Scotland), that differentiate the Junior Entrants. There is a particular requirement to attain the NVQ qualifications as part of the overall program. ‘Junior Entrants’ will have to be in an apprenticeship of some sort in order to achieve the testing and course work required.
By working independently and without the need for NVQ assessments, many Mature Entrants can concentrate on those areas that provide the biggest profit and offer the largest practical solutions for themselves. For example by concentrating on those qualifications aimed at giving them the best return from their training costs. This system does meet the purposes set out and therefore often provides a faster and more direct route into a trading position.
We should differentiate the prospective earnings into the two categories of employed and self-employed. Whilst we will focus on full time employment, there exists the issue as to whether self-employed people are doing this full time or part time. Income levels are also dictated by experience and knowledge gained – usually proven via an accredited proficiency or certification level.
Although starting wages for ‘Junior Entrants’ are around 13k p.a. they can rise above 30k p.a. but this does depend on their level of experience. Mature Entrants are more difficult to assess, and incomes up to and above 70k are regularly reported within the UK Press. It should be remembered however that a self employed person must often bear additional costs for items such as vehicles, tools and clothing. Earmarked within this is the need to cover additional expenses such as accountancy or insurance. Whilst there is lots of available work, a severe skills shortage means electricians are very much in demand. Certainly, working a full week is a realistic possibility for those who want to. It should be noted that figures of 70-100k p.a. advertised are not necessarily easy to come by and would require some long working hours to obtain them.
In light of the above, it is often understood that there is wild variance between the working expectations of Junior and Mature Entrants. Electricians who are ‘Junior Entrants’ would work a simple 40 hour working week. While on the other hand, the opportunities in the domestic market (where mature entrants often work) can be heavily dependent upon when the clients get home. There are however lots of opportunities for self-employed electricians to do work on small business systems during normal office hours.
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. Then again, the mature entrant can even go outside of the electrical field to gas work or plumbing work for example. Certainly if they are employed within the domestic sector this makes it easier to take on work without having to rely upon other people.
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. This could be an area of interest to both Junior and Mature Entrants, and with the expected growth and governmental (both UK & EEC) support, it could provide some highly lucrative employment and business opportunities.