Shift to EVs means huge ‘reskilling’ job for Europe: report

French President Emmanuel Macron is shown an engine during a visit to the site of the future factory of Japan-based battery maker Envision AESC group, where Renault SA develops an electric-vehicle manufacturing hub, in Douai, northern France, 28 June 2021. [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN]

The shift to electric vehicles will force huge changes in the auto industry and require EU backing for ‘reskilling’ programs to help workers prepare for a zero-emission future, according to a report published on Tuesday (28 September).

The Platform for Electromobility, an industry group, said a report by the Boston Consulting Group showed by 2030 European auto industry employment will drop by less than 1% from 5.7 million people today amid the transition to electric vehicles.

But jobs at manufacturers and traditional suppliers focused on combustion engines will drop 20% and 42% respectively – between them shedding a cumulative 500,000 positions. At the same time, employment at suppliers focused on zero-emission technology will rise by 300,000 workers, representing a 10% increase, the study said.

The European Commission has proposed an effective ban on new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035.

Automakers have warned that jobs at conventional combustion engine plants will be particularly at risk and have called on the European Union to help mitigate the impact the shift to electric will have on those manufacturing workers.

German car parts suppliers fret over combustion engine phase-out

The European Commission’s Fit for 55 package will rapidly tighten emission standards for cars, effectively banning the sale of vehicles fitted with internal combustion engines by 2035. German carmakers had preempted the move, but parts suppliers and employees are worried.

Platform for Electromobility said the study predicts huge job increases for energy production related to the auto industry, and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

The group said the EU, governments and companies should focus on investing in education, training, ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ of workers to “ensure no one is left behind” as the industry makes the transition to electric vehicles.

“The auto industry is so strategic for Europe across the board involving an awful lot of people that reside everywhere, so it’s important that the EU work with member states on accompanying policy,” Platform for Electromobility chair Arne Richters told Reuters. “Reskilling and making that a strategic priority is a crucial point.”

The group represents a number of organisations and corporations including carmakers Tesla Inc, Renault and Nissan, charging company ChargePoint , and US conglomerate 3M.

The rise of electric vehicles could deliver green jobs – but we need a plan

As electromobility grows, it’s triggering enormous change to the automotive sector, writes Judith Kirton-Darling. Handled right, this transition could bring Europe an unrivalled opportunity for competitive advantage and provide a future for the 14 million workers in Europe who depend directly or indirectly on the automotive industry, she argues.

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