Q&A with industry expert James Harding
With the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) moving at pace, the demand for electricians specialising in EV charger installations is higher than ever. And apprenticeships offer young people a smart route to becoming part of the next generation of EV-literate electricians.
We caught up with James Harding, owner of Harding Electric Company and founder of the leading UK EV Installers network, on what advice he’d give to budding electricians.
Q: Hi James! Could you tell us a bit more about your professional background?
A: In another life, I ran multinational recruitment businesses. In fact, it was this career where I discovered just how valuable apprentices could be. One example was when we hired 30 apprentices over 2 years and scaled the business completely. Following our work with apprentices, we actually won the National Apprenticeship Award!
Now, I work as a qualified domestic electrician for EV charge points, as well as running the UK EV Installers website and Facebook group. Founded in 2019, the network now has a membership of over 2,300. It feels very much like a supportive community where we share technical advice, manufacturer and supplier recommendations, and foster industry relationships.
Q: If a young person was considering undertaking an installer apprenticeship, why should they choose to become an EV charge point installer?
A: Well, firstly, it’s a future proof career. More people than ever are switching onto the importance of making sustainable choices, so EV adoption is on the rise —and will hopefully become the norm in the not-too-distant future. Plus, new technologies are set to be created, with the industry predicting that buses, taxies, and lorries will make the switch to electric. That means that becoming an EV charger electrician is very lucrative and will offer young people a career in an industry that’s growing exponentially.
Not only this, but non-specialised electrical apprentices tend to do the lower level, baseline activity. EV installer apprentices, on the other hand, won’t have to spend their time in a hard hat and a high vis — it’s a relatively clean and pleasant day’s work!
The other reason is that you can become an expert much quicker, which means young people can become specialists in their areas.
Q: What advice would you give to budding electricians on getting into the industry?
A: My first piece of advice would be to choose a good employer who can demonstrate success recruiting and training apprentices, that’s aligned with a reputable college where you can learn strong fundamentals of electrical installation, and not just how to fit an EV charger. This will help you to become a well-rounded, knowledgeable electrician first, before you can then specialise into doing EV charger installations.
Secondly, it’s similar to getting a foot in the door to any other industry, I think. Show employers that you’re proactive — some businesses may feel that apprentices could be a burden to their day-to-day work, so showing them that you’re there to add value and be a reliable helping hand is a good idea. It goes without saying but be eager to learn and do your studies to the best of your ability.
Q: What can EV charger brands do to support electrical apprentices?
A: First and foremost, brands need to create good, reliable chargers, that meet the highest standards of electrical compliance, including the new regulations for smart charge points. For example, Indra has engineered unique PESTs™ technology that’s specifically designed to eliminate common problems that installers have with installations, and to help you achieve installation compliance in each situation you face. That’s the sort of product engineering you need when training fledgling installers.
Another valuable thing that brands can do is publish useful installation information and technical refreshers. Even myself, an experienced EV charge point installer, found Indra’s videos in partnership with eFIXX massively helpful as a technical refresher. So, for electrical apprentices, I imagine they’re invaluable for giving you an introduction to technical installation.
Q: Have you got any other snippets of wisdom to pass onto electric apprentices?
A: Make the most of the skills you possess! Young people are digital natives, so they’re actually much better at the key steps required in EV charger installation, such as getting onto a customer’s Wi-Fi. Plus, their natural social media skills often mean they’re great at marketing themselves and businesses. I suggest that budding electricians use those qualities to make themselves indispensable to employers!
To join the UK EV Installers network, visit here.