Charging is changing: Preparing for the future of EVs in the US

An increased investment in electric vehicles may mean new challenges for employers.

5 minutes

Person charging an electric vehicle.

President Biden and the US Congress have approved a series of crucial laws aimed at establishing the United States as a leader in electric transportation and ensuring continued competitiveness in the automotive sector on a global scale.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are set to channel hundreds of millions of dollars toward the development of electric vehicles, supporting infrastructure, manufacturing, and supply chains. Couple this with the fact that 25% of Americans say their next car purchase will be an electric vehicle, and it’s easy to see how the automotive industry will see significant changes in the coming years.

Beyond the good news of increased investment in electric vehicles, new challenges are on the horizon for US automakers and other employers.

An evolving industry favors agile organizations

As a result of government funding and a growing awareness around environmentally friendly purchases, the sale of alternative fuel vehicles increased by approximately 83% between 2018 and 2021, signaling massive disruption in the market. As the demand for electric vehicles continues to grow, organizations will need to adapt to keep up with the changing landscape of the automotive industry.

The shift from traditional automobile manufacturing to new electric vehicle production will be a complicated pivot for most organizations. This will impact everything from the supply chain to marketing strategies, and only agile organizations will come out on top. This will not only disrupt automotive manufacturers but most of their suppliers, too.

Traditional component suppliers may see their market share plummet to 50% of 2019 levels if they are not able to adapt. To succeed in this rapidly evolving industry, companies must recruit and develop the necessary skills to meet production deadlines for a completely different type of product.

Preparing employees for change

The skills required to produce electric vehicles should be a main concern for all organizations. Companies need to invest in training and development programs to ensure their employees are equipped with the knowledge and expertise required to work with the latest technology. However, they also need to generate genuine interest in new technology and have honest conversations with their employees about the importance of reskilling.

Arne Hellmuth, Managing Director for Transformation Solutions at LHH says that employers shouldn’t assume that workers want to completely reskill for a new industry. He explains that “companies sometimes fail to account for the fact that reskilling is itself a form of career transition, and not everyone is going to want to buy into it. Even though reskilled workers will have improved their employability, the trade-off is that they will essentially be starting over their careers as ‘junior’ employees. This means that managers and human resources must be able to have these nuanced career conversations with their workers, to help them understand the importance of learning new skills and technologies and provide support throughout the transition.”

Companies must ensure that their leaders are properly trained in change management and effective communication skills. This will help employees deal with the transition in different areas of their organization.

Adecco Group research shows that 63% of workers in the Mobility and Automotive industry believe a transition to a green economy will lead to them losing their job, highlighting how this widespread cultural shift will require change advocates at all levels of an organization to ensure the workforce remains engaged and productive.

Covering new skills and knowledge demand

The emerging electric vehicle industry presents unique challenges and opportunities regarding worker skills and knowledge. As combustion engines see a decline in production and alternative fuel powered vehicles grow in popularity, we’re likely to see less need for low to medium-skilled trade jobs and a drastic increase in the need for high-skilled technical jobs such as engineers, researchers, and information and communications technology (ICT) specialists.

Data from Europe suggests that these skilled positions could account for 90% of job growth in the automotive industry from 2020 to 2030.

Automotive companies are changing their focus from manufacturing to technology, leading to competition with tech giants such as Apple and Alphabet for engineering and IT talent. The demand for mechanical engineers is being replaced by the need for software engineers due to the more connected vehicle technology and embedded software.

However, the shift to electric and alternative-powered vehicles presents an opportunity for recruiters to source professionals with transferable skills from adjacent industries. A recent recruiter survey showed a significant increase in demand for automotive roles, with IT industry workers transitioning to green talent positions in the automotive industry over any other sector.

If your organization is struggling to prepare for upcoming changes in the automotive industry, Adecco can help. We have decades of experience navigating workforce obstacles across a range of sectors, and we have the expertise you need to thrive in an evolving market. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.