Attention, U.S. automotive businesses that are dragging their feet about upskilling staff to repair and service electric and autonomous vehicles: Please read on and consider the case for change.
Though battery-electric-vehicle running costs in the long term are lower, the lifetime service and repair costs are significantly more than those for an internal-combustion-powered car.
If your workshop accommodates BEVs, that means more money for your business. For example, a BEV with front-end damage will cost more than $4,000 to fix compared to just under $3,000 for a non-BEV.
Numbers Too Big to Ignore
This year more BEVs will be on the road, with the U.S. market hitting a record 1 million in sales.
The push for more BEV sales is gaining traction, with more than 18 states moving to ban sales of gas-powered vehicles. Last year, California decreed that only electricity- or hydrogen-powered new cars, trucks and SUVs could be sold in the state beginning in 2035. Also, by then, the U.S. Government will no longer buy gas-powered vehicles for its fleet. Meanwhile, Wyoming wants to phase out BEV sales by 2035, claiming it will hinder trade across its borders.
This article explores some of the challenges and opportunities for the auto industry. It will also demonstrate how human resources professionals can develop strategies to identify and train employees for these new roles.
Transitioning to the EV Era
The U.S. automotive industry is already struggling with a growing labor shortage. Young people are turning away from trade careers, looking elsewhere for a clearly defined career path and better pay.
Could careers in EVs be the boost the automotive sector needs to lure more would-be workers?
What’s your strategy to address the skills gap in your transition to this new era in transport?
Making the “switch” from working on internal-combustion engines is literally and figuratively “high voltage.” Analysis from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has identified these four main segments of the BEV value chain:
- Battery and powertrain manufacturing.
- Original equipment manufacturing.
- Software development.
- After-sales services.
The BCG says that in the next quarter-century, BEVs will offer U.S. automakers and suppliers opportunities for job growth and a market value hitting many trillions of dollars.
Here’s how your business can make inroads and last the distance.
Tip #1: Collaborate creatively for training and tools
Partner with key car brands to collaborate on training, specialization and certification for staff in your workshop. These manufacturers can offer your staff hands-on training in a mentored and safe environment. Expect to have to make hefty investments in tooling for your workshop and beware that they won’t suit all makes of cars. Then, you’ll need to pay for training.
Consider lobbying for government or industry grants to help offset these initial costs. Apprentice intermediary organizations can offer economies of scale and know-how about grants for companies looking to start new training programs. In the long run, though, upskilling your staff to work on BEVs helps your business become more competitive and future-fit.
Tip #2: Scope out the range of training needed
Consider how you’ll ensure the specialized knowledge and training for BEVs happens in your business, including:
- High-voltage systems.
- Battery technology.
- Computer diagnostics.
- Electric motors and controls.
- Workplace safety training.
- Soft skills.
- Continuous learning.
Do a skills audit of your current cohort of workers, so you’re clear about their experience, training and qualification levels.
Tip #3: Learn, Adapt and Succeed
Encourage a cultural shift across all levels of your organization to bake in learning and continuous improvement. Encourage employees to pursue further education and training opportunities, including attending conferences. Be explicit about how this builds their career path. Create opportunities for staff to tackle new challenges and responsibilities. Be sure to offer ongoing feedback and coaching. Better-trained staff means you’re maximizing your knowledge base through improved efficiency and productivity.
Foster a talent pipeline by linking with local schools and community colleges. Consider rebadging what you do as innovating in the emerging field of transportation technology.
The transition to BEV and autonomous-car services and operations won’t happen overnight. But the future belongs to those who prepare for it today. Skilling up the workforce for these emerging technologies is essential.
Let’s embrace the future and drive toward a brighter tomorrow.
Nicholas Wyman (pictured, above left) writes about a range of topics related to workforce development, apprenticeships and the future of work, providing valuable insights and practical advice to professionals and organizations around the world.