A growing lack of newly-qualified electricians in the Dungannon and Cookstown districts might hamper the recovery of the economy, it has been claimed.
The number of local students applying for electrical apprenticeships has sunk to an all-time low, according to an industry insider, meaning that there are not enough apprentices to replace those who leave the profession.
Meanwhile, the local construction industry is still struggling to replace the scores of skilled workers who left the sector during the recession.
“There is a growing lack of skilled electrical contractors emerging from the local further education colleges and the shortfall needs to be addressed”, warned the expert.
“There are plenty of apprenticeships available but the problem is students aren’t applying.
“Electricians are very much in short supply at the minute, which is bad news for the economy and householders who are being forced to pay premium rates to get the services of a qualified electrician.
“There has been an upturn in construction recently, and this has exposed the current shortage in that area. Electrical work and scaffolding are two of the areas where there are not enough skilled workers.”
Data from the Office of National Statistics shows the number of electricians has fallen over the past three years to return to levels lower than before the onset of recession.
In 2007, there were 180,000 electricians active in the UK, but as of 2014 this now stands at 179,000 – down from 184,800 in 2012.