How new network technology is changing electricians’ jobs

Kathryn Whitfield BeltonLeave a Comment

Many individuals and businesses across Australia have employed electricians to help them run cables for network setups in their homes or offices. This has been a common practice for years now, as electricians have plenty of experience with running cable for other purposes, and there may not have been many technicians in a given area who were specifically trained to set up networks.

However, as network technology evolves and becomes more complex, electricians will become less and less likely to be able to install the cables efficiently, successfully or even safely. 

An electrician's main job is working with electrical systems, and networking isn't covered by their job description or training, so they may not understand the nuances of the equipment or techniques needed.

What's the difference?

Electricians have to keep in mind that, as unshielded twisted pair cable technology evolves, the differences in quality are obvious to someone with technical training in the data communications field but perhaps not to all electricians. For instance, the latter might not understand the distinctions between Categories 5 and 5e or may unwittingly purchase cables that are noncompliant with industry standards for safety and data transmission speeds.

While electricians have long been seen by the general public as the gold standard for running cable of all types, the fact is that modern and evolving network needs require a technical professional more specifically trained in setting up a data network. This demand may be especially pressing as more competition comes into the Australian data sphere and companies – especially in more rural parts of the country – are able to invest in higher-end network technology.

What's the fallout?

Indeed, if someone not specifically trained for the work – whether it's an electrician or someone else – improperly installs network cabling, safety isn't the only risk. In addition to the increased fire hazard, individuals or businesses can also expect to see lower-quality network performance, the need for more (and more complicated) network maintenance and, consequently, higher costs.

Likewise, an electrician who doesn't have network-specific training may not know that running such cables parallel to electrical cables, certain types of lighting and so on can result in interference that degrades network quality.

What can electricians do?

With these issues in mind, now might be the time for any electricians who have found running cable to be a useful skill in their ongoing business to get up to speed with the latest network cabling know-how. This training can give your clients peace of mind that any cable running – for electrical or network purposes – will be done safely with convenience and quality.

Moreover, there's a competitive advantage to undergoing the training necessary to properly set up a home or business network. The Australian Industry and Skills Committee estimates that, as of the end of 2018, about 162,500 electricians worked across the country. By contrast, there were only about 30,000 telecommunications trade workers nationwide. That's a gap of 132,500 – and it's expected to widen to nearly 139,000 by 2023. This disparity is because Australia will likely have a combination of more electricians by then (up to an estimated 163,500) and fewer telecoms trade workers (down to 24,700).

Data and Communications training options from NECA Education & Careers, may enable electricians across Australia to improve their skills and certifications so they can provide their clients more peace of mind. In addition, they can distinguish themselves from the many electricians nationwide who may not have such training. That, in turn, could help them grow their client base as the national data grid continually improves.


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