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Success, Safety and Sustainable Future Growth
June 2022

Success, Safety and Sustainable Future Growth
Exploring the work of Master Electricians New Zealand

With a history dating back to 1925, Master Electricians operates at the heart of New Zealand’s Electrical Industry. The work it does is vital to ensuring the success, safety and sustainable future growth not only of its members, but of the entire industry.

As a part of Legrand’s global commitment to corporate social responsibility, we have a focus on giving back to the sectors in which we operate. Legrand provides invaluable support to Master Electricians, enabling it to support the industry’s business owners, undertake crucial advocacy work at Government-level, and through Etco - nurture the next generation of New Zealand’s electricians.

Master Electricians CEO, Bernie McLaughlin comments, “As an organisation, we have limited income streams. Legrand has been supporting us for 25 years-plus, and without that support we’d be limited in what we can do for our members and the industry.”



Master Electricians supports its members in their business operations, with a focus on helping businesses to start right.

Bernie explains, “Why are we here? To help our members be more profitable,” he adds, “We work to recognize the pain points in running an electrical contracting business, and assist our members to work through those issues. We understand that one of the top time-killers for small businesses is HR, so we’re currently offering professional HR support for our members so they can easily seek advice on employee issues and obtain information around setting up employment contracts – when you’re starting out, you might not even know this is required.”

Bernie also emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people to create a successful business. “Networking is an incredibly valuable business tool. Master Electricians provides networking opportunities in multiple ways including annual conferences, and monthly branch meetings where you can have a chat to successful business owners. You may be surprised; these business owners want to give you pointers - they may even give you some work. By understanding and learning from the mistakes they’ve made, you’ll give yourself some impetus moving forward.”

Another of Master Electrician’s fastest growing service is providing technical advice. Interpreting the regulations and 200-plus standards relating to our industry is crucial to ensuring public and workplace safety. Master Electricians is currently fielding 30-40 technical standard-queries a week from its members.



A lesser-known area of Master Electricians’ remit is the advocacy work it does on behalf of the industry.

From working with Government on the recent Construction Contracts Act, to the reviewing of Electrical Standards and regulations, and right now, digesting the Climate Change Commission’s report and understanding the impact of its recommendations on the industry.

Bernie comments, “The Climate Change Commission’s report has huge implications for our industry, it’s imperative that we’re across the detail for our members. The ambitious change to 100% electric vehicles is going to affect us hugely – a massive amount of work needs to happen to build the infrastructure to charge these vehicles.”

And it’s not just the charging infrastructure, many Electrical Contractors are facing having to upgrade sizeable fleets of fossil fuel vehicles to meet the new legislation.

Bernie says, “We’re currently working with a company who is looking at the vehicle fleets of three of Master Electricians’ larger members. They’re providing a report recommending whether these contracting businesses could use their current fossil fuel fleet more effectively, or whether certain parts of their fleet could be suited to hydrogen or an electric/hydrogen combination.”  



According to Bernie, the biggest challenge facing New Zealand’s Electrical industry is the dire shortage of skilled workers. He comments, “With the introduction of the Employer training subsidy, there’s been a 10-15% increase in training, with a welcomed increase in Maori, Pacifica and Female apprentices to the industry,” he adds, “However, 25% of our workforce is likely to retire in the next 10 years. This means we need to be training 30% higher than we are now, just to keep up”.

At Government-level, Master Electricians has been lobbying the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission to ensure the industry’s plight is heard, and so that any new policies are not impacting negatively on businesses willingness to train.

In 1991 when the Government of the day pulled back from industry training, Master Electricians founded Etco.  Etco operates at the grassroots level, and is New Zealand’s largest employer of electrical apprentices – currently employing over 900 apprentices and providing off-job training to another 1,400 independently employed apprentices. Since its launch in 1991, Etco has trained an impressive 3000 apprentices.

For 20 years, Legrand has provided significant sponsorship and support that has enabled both Etco, and its apprentices to thrive. Each year, Legrand supplies the products that Etco uses across its training facilities, as well as providing training and information on new product developments to Etco’s Tutors – ensuring they’re fully conversant in the latest innovations and market trends.

Legrand also sponsor the Master Electrician’s Apprentice Challenge, using our in-house technical expertise to design challenges for the apprentices using Legrand’s state-of-the-art technology and latest product ranges.

Bernie says, “Legrand has been instrumental in supporting the grassroots level of our industry through their ongoing and longstanding support of the Challenge and Etco. The apprentice challenge is really important to our industry and from Day One Legrand has been an invaluable contributor.”

Training the next generation of electricians is vital to the sustainable growth of New Zealand’s Electrical Industry. Legrand applauds the work that Master Electricians are doing to ensure a bright, successful future – and we’re proud to play a part in making this happen. 




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