For automotive companies “controlling their destiny” will be determined by their ability to attract and retain the high-tech talent needed to transition to the electric and autonomous vehicle (EV/AV) future. Understanding the talent pipeline and how best to cultivate the workforce needed will determine the winners and losers of the new mobility era.
40,000 New Engineers Needed Annually
Most industry reports predict a skills gap of more than 100,000 U.S. workers by 2025. Of these, 40,000 will be engineers with college degrees, while the rest are comprised of skilled tradespeople needed for repair, service, and recycling. While U.S. universities produce 70,000 engineers annually, only 1% of those choose to take their talents to the automotive industry. The industry needs at least 40,000 new engineers each year to address their capability gap when moving to the EV/AV era.
Several Factors Exacerbating Skills Gap
That massive skills gap is being exacerbated by several factors. The cost for higher education continues to rise exponentially, increasing barriers to enrollment and making the return on investment of that education more elusive, which further deters enrollment in traditional post-secondary education. In addition, the type of skills required in the EV/AV era, is not fully addressed by the traditional college curriculum. It’s anticipated that more than25% of the talent supply will come from non-traditional sources like custom-built apprenticeship programs run by industry associations and companies.
New Talent Strategies Critical
As the industry-wide approach from thinking in terms of components transitions to systems and shifts focus from mechanical engineers to software engineers, there’s a growing need for non-traditional talent strategies. Utilizing apprenticeship programs, companies will need to both absorb talent from non-college avenues, like coding academies and non-technical college programs, while conducting rapidly updated on-the-job training in emerging technology areas and turning to crowd-sourcing platforms to find the right talent. Companies may also opt to have a common employee pool from other industries, essentially renting employees involved in non-differentiated work when one company has a peak load of resources but others may be slower.
Optimization, Global Talent Networks Can Lessen the Pain
One way to beat talent supply challenges is to reduce demand systematically by optimizing the number of employees required. Agile development practices, common in software engineering, have proven to use 25% less capacity than traditional development practices and offer an opportunity to optimize employee utilization. Globalization also offers a path to a broader talent pool as many new software roles in automotive are conducive to remote work from any part of the world. Setting up talent networks amongst cities with similar cultures and allowing the free exchange of talent, ideas, and capital inside the network and across networks – think Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Toronto – are a classical example of a neo mobility talent corridor or network that industry leaders may need to resort to more frequently moving forward.
EV/AV Shift to be Top 10 Event of 21st Century
When the horse-and-carriage gave way to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, ICE mobility became one of the most important socioeconomic changes that resulted in the U.S. and North America’s rise to economic prosperity. The new era of EV/AV mobility—and being able to pivot to its unique needs—will be just as transformational.
Those companies, regions, and countries that are destined to own that EV/AV future, first must win the competition for talent.