Research into the solar power workforce supports calls for electricians to upskill

Research commissioned by The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) reveals the scale of the workforce required to meet government targets for solar powered electricity generation. According to the study, conducted by Pye Tait, the current figure of 1,300 qualified electricians in the solar sector, will need to increase to between 6,110 and 6,890 by 2035. 

The Joint Industry Board (JIB), a partner organisation in TESP, is committed to promoting entry to the electrotechnical profession and training for qualified electricians to meet the needs of a low-carbon built environment. The data produced by this research, validates the organisation’s continuing work, to raise standards for employment, grading and apprentice training. 

Electrician Plus 

As a partner in TESP, JIB endorses the Electrician Plus model which promotes the upskilling of qualified electricians in new technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The JIB administers the Electrotechnical Certification Scheme which sets the standard for competence in the England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of the almost 75,000 qualified Electricians with valid ECS cards, more than 50,000 have also obtained ECS Registered Electrician status, showing their commitment to CPD and a professional code of practice. Upskilling in areas such as solar photovoltaics demonstrates this professionalism. 

More than 750 qualified electricians have added their solar photovoltaic qualifications to their ECS CPD record and their ECS card over the past few years, and everyone is being encouraged to do so, to highlight these valuable skills.  

The JIB Skills Development Fund helps to finance employee training within its member companies in areas such as solar PV, electric vehicle charge point installation and maintenance, and other low carbon technology training and qualifications.


Apprentices continue to play a key part in the future of the electrotechnical industry and collaborates with industry partners to ensure appropriate pathways are in place to deliver the0 workforce required. 


ECS is seeing growth in all areas and recognition of the standards a gold card represents is stronger than ever. Systems such as ECS Check and CSCS Smart Check are providing simple solutions to verifying these necessary skills and experience with almost 30,000 ECS card holders having their credentials checked this year. 

ECS is also at the heart of developing multiple Experienced Worker Assessment routes, supporting the update of Mandatory Technical Competencies in areas such as low carbon technology. It is recognised as part individual level and company level competency structures. 

The JIB’s Chief Executive Jay Parmar said: “This crucial research, provides the data which endorses our aims to raise standards and competence within the electrotechnical sector. For the UK to meet its targets on solar power, and wider net zero goals, we need to see a clear and consistent approach from government to support apprenticeships and the upskilling of qualified electricians.“

Mike Smith, Technical Director at the ECA and member of the ECS Steering Committee, emphasised the importance of training for qualified electricians. “Incorrect installation not only poses safety risks but hampers the low-carbon intention to save on energy and finances. Industry-standard qualifications distinguishe qualified electricians, demonstrating their expertise to potential employers and customers. This aligns with our work to update mandatory technical competencies (MTCs) for competent persons schemes in areas such as solar photovoltaic installation and maintenance, and underpins the competency requirements for building safety regulations”.   

The JIB is an impartial organisation which sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrotechnical sector. The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) is the sole ID and competence card scheme for electrotechnical operatives in the UK. Holding an ECS card proves qualification status, main electrical occupation, identity, health and safety awareness as well as any additional disciplines in which the operative is skilled to work. The JIB administers the ECS scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) is a not-for-profit industry partnership formed by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), Joint Industry Board (JIB), National Electrotechnical Training (NET), SELECT and Unite the Union to support electrotechnical employers to develop and drive the industry’s skills agenda.

‘The Solar Power Challenge 2035’ research was commissioned by TESP,  funded by  NET and conducted by Pye Tait. It can be downloaded here.