While Auckland electricians are pretty thin on the ground, only 2% of electrical apprentices are female. But that’s changing rapidly. About 200 more women signed up to become apprentices in 2020.

The Covid-19 lockdown had an unusual and unexpected impact – it has been boosting the number of women taking up trades. This doubles the proportion of women in trades to about one in 20. Despite this, it remains alarmingly low as a career option in one of New Zealand’s biggest industries.

However, more women are studying to get into the trades, with a career as an electrician being a popular choice at one polytechnic.

Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) has been training future Auckland electricians under the Māori & Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) scholarship. MPTT has had a total of 1,632 trainees in Auckland come through since 2014, of which 433 were female.

Marama, 24, was initially pretty serious about a career nursing. But, after a few setbacks and a gap year, she decided to get into electrical engineering.

She’s hoping to test the waters in the residential installation sector.

“A lot of residential employers that I’ve talked to say elderly people like women electricians. They’d rather wait a couple of months for a woman to be available than [have a] man to do the work.” 

Lance Riesterer, general manager specialist trades and commercial at Skills, a multi-sector Industry Training Organisation (ITO) says women are “capable of excelling at all the skills needed to succeed” in the electrical trade.

“Two years after completing their apprenticeship, electricians can earn up to $54k per annum. For experienced electricians working in specialist fields, they can earn in excess of $100k per year” 

 

Electricians in Auckland Included in Trade Shortage

Auckland Electricians are in high demand. In fact, Master Electricians chief executive Bernie McLaughlin has said that the industry across NZ was 10,000 electricians short.

A surge of new apprentices, with upturns in females and Māori or Pacific trainees had been encouraging, he said.

“Because there are just no skilled workers, what’s happening is there’s quite a lot of poaching on going on as well. Tradespeople are going to companies for an extra $3-$5 an hour and of course, overheads go up and so charge-out rates go up.

“So it’s actually quite inflationary, it’s got a much wider effect on NZ Inc than just a slow build process.”

An NZIER quarter survey said the difficulty of finding skilled labour was at the highest it’s been since the mid-1970s, with Covid-related supply chain disruptions adding to the sector’s problems.

On the positive side, some 100,000 people have taken up free vocational training and apprenticeships under the Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) since last July.

 

How Can I become an Electrician in Auckland?

To become an electrician you need to complete a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering – Electrician for Registration (Level 4) or, for electricity supply electricians, a National Certificate in Electricity Supply (Level 4). You can complete these qualifications as part of an apprenticeship with a registered electrician. An apprenticeship usually takes three to four years to complete, and involves a mix of theory and practical on-the-job learning.

The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website: www.tec.govt.nz/teo/working-with-teos/itos/new-zealand-apprenticeships

 

Skills – Encouraging More Women to Enter the Trades

Skills was founded in 1992 with the goal of helping New Zealand industries develop the standards and qualifications that would set people and businesses up for success. It all began with training up generations of NZ electricians.

Skills plays an active role in encouraging more women to enter the trades.

“Some of the initiatives we have run include get-togethers for women from various trades to meet and connect with each other.

Our female ambassadors regularly visit schools and speak at events to share their experiences.”

Skills also works with other ITOs and industry partners to promote careers for women in trades and to promote their success.

 

What the job involves

Electricians may do some or all of the following:

  • interpret electrical information on diagrams and plans
  • check for errors in diagrams and plans
  • install electrical wiring and equipment
  • repair and replace electrical wiring, parts and equipment
  • safety-test work
  • keep records of problems they find, and the work they do
  • prepare job and other quotes, or provide information for quotes.

 

Skills and knowledge needed

Electricians need to have knowledge of:

  • electrical theory, laws, codes, and standards of practice
  • how to install electrical wiring and fixtures
  • how to draw wiring diagrams and floor plans
  • basic maths and physics
  • safety procedures and first aid.

Self-employed electricians must also have business skills.

 

Working conditions

Electricians:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work weekends, public holidays, or be on call
  • may work at construction sites or in buildings, power generation stations or substations
  • may work at heights and in enclosed, noisy, dirty, dusty, or hazardous conditions
  • travel to local worksites.

 

What are the chances of getting a job as an electrician in Auckland?

Construction boom and staff shortage drive demand for electricians

High demand for qualified electricians in Auckland is expected to continue due to:

  • an increase in residential and commercial building projects, especially in wealthy areas with high population growth
  • an ageing workforce
  • the low number of school leavers entering electrical trade apprenticeships
  • the need for electricians who know how to work with new technologies.

According to the Census, 30,000 electrical workers were employed in New Zealand in 2018.

 

Electrician on skill shortage list

Electrician appears on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled electricians from overseas to work in New Zealand.

 

7 Employability Skills That Employers Want

Demand is high in Auckland, where electricians are needed for house building and commercial work. If you want to become an electrician in Auckland, the following employability skills show your ability to get and keep a job. They paint a picture of how you approach work and get a task done.

Positive Attitude

You:

  • Have a positive self-image and “can do” attitude.
  • Are optimistic, honest, and show respect.
  • Make a choice to be happy, friendly, and enthusiastic.
  • Are motivated to work hard.

Communication

You:

  • Understand how words and actions affect others.
  • Ask questions when unsure or unclear.
  • Understand how employees, employers, and customers communicate.
  • Can speak, listen, and share ideas appropriately.

Team work

You:

  • Work well with others to complete tasks and meet goals.
  • Contribute to developing new ideas or approaches.
  • Work well with others of different cultures, genders, or beliefs.
  • Recognise the authority of supervisors and managers and can follow directions

Self-management

You:

  • Are self-aware and can reflect on your own actions.
  • Show commitment and responsibility.
  • Are dependable, follow instructions, and complete assigned tasks.
  • Are responsible for your own health, and follow health and safety guidelines in the workplace.
  • Arrive at work on time, with appropriate food, clothing, and equipment.

Willingness to learn

You:

  • Are willing to learn new tasks, skills, and information.
  • Are curious and enthusiastic about the job and industry.
  • Are interested in doing work more efficiently and creatively.
  • Accept advice or feedback and learn from mistakes.

Thinking Skills (Problem solving and decision-making)

You:

  • Identify and assess options before making a decision.
  • Recognise problems and use initiative to find solutions.
  • Think about consequences before you act.

Resilience

You:

  • Adapt and are flexible with new and changing situations.
  • Handle challenges and setbacks and don’t give up.
  • Recognise and accept your mistakes, and learn from them.

 

So now that you know more about women working in the electrical trades, is it for you? Have you considered joining this amazing sector?

We need more electricians in Auckland!

Go on – have a think about it!