Can it be too convenient?
Is the growth in progressively convenient pre-fabricated components allowing the industry to forget about the importance of basic skills?
The response of many manufacturers to a chronic shortage of skilled people has been to introduce ever more convenient solutions, with the aim of adding value by allowing the electrician to move on to the bigger tasks.
Prefabricated solutions save time on site and arguably remove one of the more tedious routine tasks from the daily life of the electrical contractor.
Repeat this example over and over again across different products and solutions: pre-assembled kits, mobile-enabled instructions for on-site guidance, equipment that diagnoses its own faults.
All of which have their advantages. However, does an over-reliance on labour-saving equipment mean that a generation of electricians is entering the trade without a practised experience of basic skills? And if they are—does it matter?
As buildings become more automated, they become—paradoxically—both easier to run and more complicated to maintain. This is already spreading to the residential market as domestic appliances become linked to remotely controlled electrical supply and maintenance, in a growing culture that isn’t driven by need, but by the desire for luxury—and convenience.
A New Skillset?
There is an argument to say that, in this brave new world, the skills that are needed are very different—analytical, design-based and interpretive rather than practical hands-on knowledge.
Are we in danger of focusing too much on theory and not enough on practice? Does all of that time spent understanding fundamental skills better equip an electrician to understand the systems they operate, than a training programme which, due to that previously mentioned skills shortage, is unable to dedicate very much time to the building blocks of electrical understanding?
What Do You Think?
We’d be really interested to hear what you think. How is your work changing? Do you see the skills of newly qualified electricians changing? What do you think should be the priority in equipping the next generation of electricians in an environment that is increasingly ‘convenient’? Let us know us know on our Facebook page.