Amid the rapid rise of renewable energy usage, electric vehicles and modern building systems, the maintenance needs for the U.S.’s power grid continue to escalate.
That requires many more skilled electricians, and according to a new report, demand will soon outpace supply.
The report from hand tools maker Klein Tools and consulting firm The Accelerate Group described severe shortages in the U.S. electrical workforce for the near- and long-term. The aptly named “Dark by 2050” report said that in order to meet the needs of a growing power infrastructure, the U.S. will need an additional 224,000 electrical workers by 2030, and will need to sustain and grow that figure every year through 2050.
But the outlook is grim: the report projects that the number of electricians and line workers will actually shrink 28% from its current estimated level of 880,000 by 2050 due to age, attrition, and a lower new entrant rate. The analysis found that the gap between the electrical workforce needed and the workforce available will be 25% by 2030 and will balloon to 45% 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 supplies, transportation and — even using fuel-based backups — power generation. And these impacts would escalate by 2050.
The report said that if the projections are to be reversed, the U.S. must train between 107,000 and 224,000 new electrician and line worker apprentices between now and 2030.