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. Due to the huge list of opportunities available for a career in the electrical industry, we have to begin by focusing on the main areas and look at the ‘add-ons’ later on.
Basically there are two clear ways to gain admission into the electrical market. The first is for those wishing to train via a more traditional apprenticeship route, and the second is for people who are entering the field at a later stage in life. There are two sets of people for consideration firstly the ‘Junior Entrants’ and secondly the ‘Mature Entrants’.
Mature Entrants who join the industry later on do so with the aim of working for themselves, usually as a one person business. Whereas the ‘Junior Entrants’ train alongside regular electrical employment to pick up practical work place skills as they gain their qualifications. Upon leaving school many apprenticeships provide a fast learning curve for young adults looking to boost their auxiliary skills.
Entry has two separate approaches to teaching. NVQ’s are the key factor for all junior entrants. Whilst the core syllabus is relatively similar to non-NVQ commercial training, there is a particular requirement to attain the actual NVQ qualifications as part of the overall training program. ‘Junior Entrants’ will have to be in an apprenticeship of some sort in order to achieve the testing and course work required.
Instead of seeking a work-based training environment, the Mature Entrant often seems to focus on working as a self employed person where different qualifications to NVQ’s are preferred. For example by concentrating on those qualifications aimed at giving them the best return from their training costs. Whilst this may seem to reduce the overall qualification set, this meets the trade requirements for the areas involved, and thus provides a quicker and more direct commercial route to the market.
In terms of typical earnings, we have two clear routes – those relating to employment and those for self-employment. With self-employment a person may be working on a part-time or full time basis -to that end we will assume they are working full time. The aptitude and talent for getting things done can affect the levels of salary as well as any experience or knowledge gained.
‘Junior Entrants’ can expect a basic salary of 12K at the beginning of their training. With application and experience this figure often more than doubles in time. However, with incomes of 70,000 or more a year, a ‘Mature Entrants’ salary can often be more difficult to judge. However, it should be borne in mind that a self-employed person must meet their own costs for tools, clothes and vehicles (including insurance and petrol.) Furthermore, professional items such as accountancy, tax and insurance need to be considered to make the business work properly. In the UK there is a lot of work for electrical professions due to a short fall of current skilled people. In light of the above, a full seven day week is available to most people should they want it. Whilst figures of seventy to a hundred thousand are often bandied around in the press, they do not often inform you of the long hours you would need to work to achieve this.
In light of the above, it is often understood that there is wild variance between the working expectations of Junior and Mature Entrants. Most of the work for Junior Entrant electricians will be on a simple 9-5, Monday to Friday basis. 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.
If a Junior Electrician chooses an electrical career, then the main business actions of their company often dictate the type of expertise that they gain. 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.
One new, fast growing area – one that invokes a wide array of skills sets and is new to the industry overall – is that of the ‘Green Engineer’. Looking together to the UK and the EEC this activity could be of benefit to both Junior and Mature Entrants, providing new growth and opportunities to both disciplines.