New Cars, New Skills: US Automakers Increase Demand for Electric Vehicle Skills

Published on May 4, 2023

Written by Elizabeth Beckett

Hiring habits of major automakers have shifted to prioritize workers with skills related to Electric Vehicles (EVs), such as electromechanics, power electronics, and batteries. This increase in hiring points to a larger change in the auto vehicle industry–a projected increase of EV sales.

Electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry. More and more consumers are “going electric,” manufacturers are developing new electric and hybrid vehicle models, and government policy has started to encourage EV use. The state of California is terminating the sale of non-electric vehicles after 2035, and the IRS provides tax incentives for qualifying EV owners. In 2021, EV sales reached a historic high, with 630,000 vehicles sold. Although these environmentally conscious cars currently compose a small portion of the automotive market, the International Energy Agency has predicted that EV sales will reach 8.4 million by 2025.

Lightcast data revealed that General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Volvo, five companies that have historically focused on traditional, fuel-powered vehicles, displayed an immense increase in demand for workers with EV related skills. The five companies posted a total of 16,380 ads for automotive engineering positions between 2015 and 2022. As many as 44% of these job listings requested EV skills, such as Electromechanics, Power Electronics, Electric Motors, and Electric Power Systems.

The increased demand for EV workers is especially notable coming from these automakers, which have generally been focused on the traditional, gas-reliant vehicle. Not only are they shifting their hiring habits significantly, they are doing so in favor of a technology that still composes less than 5% of the automotive industry. Automakers are anticipating an EV-dominant future, and are ensuring that their workforces have the skills needed to keep up in a developing industry.

The demand for workers with skills related to EVs has tripled or even quadrupled at major automakers. Demand for EV workers at Toyota and Volvo increased tenfold between 2015 and 2022, and Ford’s demand went from 10.6% to 44.08% of postings. At Ford, four in 10 skills requested in engineering roles were related to EVs. General Motors requested three EV skills in 10 skills, and Chrysler and Toyota requested two in 10. 

Bar graph showing increase in demand for EV skills

Electric Vehicle skills are projected to grow 230% in five years, with similar skills like Renewable Energy, Battery Management, and Power Electronics expected to grow 189%, 134%, and 63.2%, respectively. Technological advances need to be navigated carefully in our current economic climate, and having the most up-to-date data will be essential for companies to remain competitive. 

“We can see automakers starting to hire for the future as they see it, and that future includes electric vehicles. This is a major change for the auto industry, which means a major shift in the skills required to be an automotive engineer. Employers, workers and educators should all be prepared for the shift to a significantly different skill set than what’s traditionally been required,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Rucha Vankudre.

As EV technology develops and the automotive industry responds, automakers will need to ensure that their workforce is proficient enough to keep up with these changes. Three key strategies are: 

  • Skills based hiring, the process of evaluating a candidate based on the relevant skills they have as opposed to their education or previous experience, can shed light on candidates who are equipped for the industry but may not have otherwise stood out. 

  • Upskilling, training current employees to take on new responsibilities, is an efficient way to meet the needs of a firm while providing more upward mobility. Further, workers looking to enter the automotive industry without extensive experience still can remain competitive by building relevant skills. 

  • Companies may also implement training programs for new employees, or apprenticeship programs like IBM’s to attract new talent. These techniques allow businesses to leverage existing employees, or discover capable candidates who may not have previously been considered.

Educators also hold a stake in the automotive industry. Engineering curricula should be adapted to account for EV skills as they develop, and educators can work with local employers to keep in touch with shifting demand. Educational programs may also support internships and other experience-based learning opportunities, which can help students develop skills in a relevant context.

The demand for workers with EV skills is growing rapidly and is not expected to diminish anytime soon. And as the need for workers continues to grow, so does the opportunity for those able to meet it.