top of page

Electricians for a greener tomorrow - Solution Seeking Series




During November the world turned its gaze to COP 27. For some, this was a victory and for others, an abject failure. Regardless of your view, there is a need, now more than ever, to find alternative and more sustainable sources of energy. Each of us must do our part if we are to try and change the current path we are going down.


“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade – on our watch. So let’s fight together– and let's win. For the 8 billion members of our human family – and for generations to come.” - ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General, 7 November 2022


Antonio Guterres' COP27 address
Antonio Guterres' COP27 address

In SA, we have our own local battles with energy, including, of course, load shedding. These challenges, both global and local, cannot be addressed with quick fixes but will need new approaches. South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Investment Plan (JET IP) is a step in the right direction; we all need to play our part if we want to see this come to fruition.


We often tend to think of problems like climate emergencies as too big to be tackled by any one person or organisation - they play out on a global stage, with countries and world leaders making decisions and signing agreements. Our DNA at BluLever is all about solving real-world challenges, and often this is through impacting individual people’s lives. BluLever aims to reimagine vocational education and change the way people see trade education. We have a strong focus on solving industry’s problems. We have a rhythm - one of our ways of working - called Monday Thought Starters, where each week we watch a video to stimulate our thinking in various ways. A few weeks ago we watched a video called Think Small to Solve Big Problems, which highlighted the importance of recognising that even huge global challenges are solved by starting small and tackling one piece of the puzzle at a time. When it comes to energy transitions, and the road to a greener economy, artisans have a huge part to play in this story. Artisans are the problem solvers who will transition our infrastructure, the innovators that will lead us as consumers and industry into implementing new solutions to old problems. At BluLever, we take our role in this challenge seriously - and we are very excited to be taking on the next piece of the puzzle, as we venture into the electrical space.


BluLever Campus in Braamfontein
BluLever Campus in Braamfontein

Before we can solve the global challenges ahead of us, we need to make sure we’re solving the immediate challenges that exist in the electrical industry. Starting here will allow us to begin to transform the industry from within. During 2022, BluLever dove deep into the electrical industry. We spent time talking to industry experts, employers and training providers, trying to figure out what the industry needs, what its biggest challenges are and whether it is ready for change. What we found was not surprising, given that the electrical industry’s challenges closely mirror those seen in most artisan sectors (we explored this in The Artisan Report). Employers find it really difficult to attract and hold onto the right people, and therefore struggle to grow. I feel frustrated on behalf of employers because I see so much effort, resources, and time dedicated to solving this problem but still the employers suffer.


“We have turned training into a wors machine [focused on pushing candidates through and not quality], and this does not enable my business to grow” - Electrical Professional

There are a few common challenges that all employers in the artisan industry face no matter which sector you look at:

  • Struggling to grow because they can’t find young people with the right skills

  • Teams are not working as they should because it's difficult finding young people with the right mindset and attitude, who want to be in the industry

  • Nurturing, retaining, and promoting employees is tough because career paths aren’t clear and they do not include getting qualified

BluLever is a fundamentally demand-driven organisation, this means that before we launch a new trade, we do a lot of primary and secondary research. Our starting point is trying to figure out what problems the industry is facing and what some potential solutions are. This was no different for the electrical industry, where we started out reading any existing resources and then spent time talking to professionals living and breathing the industry.


"One of the driving questions we always ask is: 'what is holding your company back from growing?'. Consistently, one of the top issues raised is finding the right people."

Businesses need people who are: passionate about the electrical trade; technically skilled; have a sense of professionalism; and have an eagerness to learn about new technologies and help them grow their business. At the moment, they overwhelmingly struggle to find these people. Our research into the industry validated the fact that BluLever is well positioned to support in solving this problem. At our core, we aim to enable businesses to grow and succeed.


With over 22,000 electrical-based businesses based in the Gauteng region alone, this industry presents a sizable opportunity to offer young people a valuable career. Employers are excited to train the next generation of electricians and they fundamentally believe this sector needs well-matched young people. There is a real opportunity to bring in the next generation of electricians, and to ensure they are trained in a manner that is future-focused.



The average age of an artisan is 55 years old, and throughout our research, most business owners mentioned that their skills will be lost in the next 10 years. The fact that the right young people often aren’t finding themselves in these types of jobs, coupled with the reality that most experienced electricians will soon be hitting the retirement age, amplifies the opportunity as well as highlights the challenges this sector faces. As a society, the urgency is something we cannot take lightly and it needs to be confronted head-on.


Ensuring well-suited young people are trained correctly to take up these opportunities is key to ensuring our energy sources are improved and our living standards are enhanced. We have to think about maintaining what we already have and simultaneously figuring out what the future looks like and how we grab hold of those opportunities.


Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation

This leads us to the future, a more sustainable and green energy source. In SA we are very fortunate, as we have many opportunities to take advantage of green energy, from wind, solar and other sources. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to get away from relying on the old way of providing power and move towards a new global trend - renewable energy. We are in a unique moment in time right now - with government pushing for just energy transitions, and homeowners and consumers actively exploring ways to get off grid - all of which create abundant opportunities for artisans with the right skills.


Green skills are vitally important for this evolution to take place. Electricians are in the fortunate position that their work brings them into direct contact with new, green technologies. Having the correct skills to take on this new tide of technology is vital if we want to ride this wave of change. These include skills related to solar and wind power or energy monitoring and saving. There are other non-traditional skills that will enhance this movement, including the ability to spot opportunities or being able to sell the benefits of new green technology. Having both the hard and soft skills makes for a standout combination (if you are curious to learn more about how a BluLever apprenticeship provides both hard and soft skills take a look at the video below).


The fact that we need to teach young people skills relating to green technology came up time and time again in our research. It was evident from our discussions that not enough young people are gaining these skills and more needs to be done. Having a young person in your business who has these skills not only enables you to provide a better service but also opens entrepreneurs up to other revenue opportunities. The electrical industry presents an excellent opportunity for young people to lead the way in changing our current course for the better.


We are very excited to move in this direction as an organisation, as we prepare to launch our electrical apprenticeship. This will be done by leveraging our learnings and experience from the plumbing apprenticeship we currently run and creating a new type of electrician. We aim to produce graduates who are not only technically skilled but who have an appetite for the green economy.


We cannot do this alone, building true partnerships has always been core to our success. As we gear up for our next trade, we are securing partnerships with other like minded organisations that see this as a massive opportunity and are excited to tackle this head on. If you want to be part of this journey to a greener and more prosperous South Africa, get in touch, and let’s build the future together.


 

Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about our answer to the challenge of preparing the next generation of electrical professionals for a green tomorrow. We’d love to hear from you, about what you feel the next generation of electricians is going to need to know - and who knows, maybe something you share will end up in the next LBC. Subscribe to the "Being Part of BluLever" newsletter so you don't miss the next solution seeking article.





Written by: Adam Collier


Adam collier is one of BluLever's co-founders. He is passionate about catalysing meaningful systemic change and building businesses that can achieve scale.


2 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page