As the world continues to evolve and worries about our carbon footprint intensify, electric cars are becoming more and more popular. But with the world of supply and demand still out of whack from the pandemic, and orders for electric vehicles like the Lightning pouring in, companies are forced to retrain assembly line workers from gas-powered cars and move them to the electric plant. Ford is currently expanding their plant to double in size. Because more customers are more interested in moving in this direction, car companies are also shifting their resources and their manpower towards electric vehicles.
This shift is not easy, as lifelong blue-collar workers as well as engineers work hard to stay up to speed. “I’m worried about how do we get enough people here, how do we fully train them,” says Chris Skaggs, who is in charge of scaling up operations at Ford’s electric plant. “Some people pick it up more quickly, some people pick it up a little bit slower.
“Shockingly, “New registrations for electric vehicles in the United States have grown more than 250% over the last five years, according to credit-reporting company Experian. In China, electric-car sales nearly tripled last year to 3.3 million, making up about half the global total, according to the International Energy Agency.” And some states, such as New York and California, are even planning to get rid of new gas cars by 2035.
Electric vehicles require code, and this is best understood by software engineers. Unfortunately, a shortage of software engineers is expected to grow to almost 1.2 million by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Universities are realizing that they have a role to play in getting technicians qualified to make electric vehicles. “Some of the larger universities are recognizing they’re behind,” says Ford’s DeWald. “They’ve got to catch up and they’ve got their own learning to do to really sort of come along and continue to be relevant in the way the world is changing.” But sometimes it is just a matter of student interest. For instance, at the University of Michigan’s auto engineering department, no one signed up for the automatic transmissions course last year.
“We can’t find anybody who is teaching systems engineering for software and that’s the key issue,”says Arthur Hyde, director of the automotive engineering program at the University of Michigan.
Many U.S. automakers are tapping talent from China and India,so they have enough workers. “Most companies I’m aware of have engineering centers in India that do nothing but write software,” says Hyde, who’s a former Ford engineer. “It’s like an assembly line.”
According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “With Amazon announcing that they are going to spend $1BB in Europe, it is only a matter of time before we all go electric.”
For those on the frontlines of the assembly line, this means job security as well as a busy, hectic future as more and more electric vehicles hit the road.