EV Manufacturing Drives New Skills for a New Workforce
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The automotive industry is at the heart of the American Midwest. The rich history of Detroit, the Big Three and the hundreds of tier 1 and 2 suppliers have created a legacy of manufacturing in the region. But the rise of EV demands a new manufacturing workforce, a smart manufacturing workforce that can embrace the history while building on the sustainable and high-tech future of automotive. If the Midwest is going to keep automotive manufacturing in the region, we must build a pipeline of talent that is prepared for the EV revolution.

With that in mind, these are the EV manufacturing skills essential for American manufacturing to thrive in the era of electric mobility, ensuring a competitive edge in the global market.

Technical Proficiency: The Backbone of EV Manufacturing Skills

Technical skills are the foundation of EV manufacturing skills, encompassing a deep understanding of the components and systems that power electric vehicles. From battery systems to electric motors and advanced materials, manufacturing employees must possess the expertise to assemble, maintain, and troubleshoot these cutting-edge technologies with precision and efficiency.

There will certainly be overlap in technical skills from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric vehicles. But EVs require a new set of skills around:

In addition to batteries themselves, EVs are often designed and manufactured differently than ICEs. Technicians should be familiar with the different mechanical and electrical components, as well as the assembly processes for each.

In order to create the pipeline of talent the U.S. needs, technical education and workforce training programs must begin to deliver EV-specific coursework tailored to the specialized skills demanded by the industry.

You might be interested in: Amatrol’s EV Manufacturing Program | eLearning and Hands-on Training for EV Technicians

Data Literacy in EV Manufacturing

Amatrol Industry 4.0 IIoT FundamentalsAs EV manufacturing becomes increasingly digitized and automated, data literacy emerges as a critical skill for manufacturing employees. The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and advanced analytics platforms generates vast amounts of data across the production process, from supply chain management to quality control. Manufacturing professionals must possess the ability to analyze this data effectively, extracting actionable insights to optimize production efficiency, enhance product quality, and drive continuous improvement initiatives. By investing in data literacy training and promoting data-driven decision-making, American manufacturers can harness the power of data to gain a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving EV market.

You might be interested in: Industry 4.0 Fundamentals | Mechatronics, Control Systems, Robotics and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Problem-Solving Abilities

The complexity of EV technology presents unique challenges that demand agile problem-solving abilities from manufacturing employees. Whether addressing technical issues on the production line or optimizing workflow processes, workers must possess the critical thinking skills and adaptability to overcome obstacles and drive continuous improvement. In America, fostering a culture of innovation and problem-solving is essential for empowering manufacturing teams to tackle the complexities of EV manufacturing effectively.

By providing opportunities for hands-on training, cross-curricular collaboration, and project-based learning, technical education can cultivate a workforce capable of navigating the challenges of a smart manufacturing environment.

You might be interested in: IGNITE: Mastering Manufacturing Project-Based Curriculum

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

EV manufacturing requires collaboration across various disciplines, including engineering, design, supply chain management, and sustainability. Manufacturing employees must possess strong communication and collaboration skills to effectively collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, leveraging collective expertise to drive holistic innovation and problem-solving.

The earlier we get students from different programs working on real-world projects, the better. Technical education is especially well-poised to deliver this kind of cross-functional learning. Whether students are working on EV-specific projects or are focusing on more general manufacturing and engineering-related skills, the “soft skills” they’ll gain from working alongside other students will create immense value in their future work.

You might be interested in: Cross-Disciplinary Teams can Solve the World’s Problems | The TechEd Podcast featuring Dr. Michael Lovell, President of Marquette University

Sustainability in EV Manufacturing

Sustainability plays a huge role in EV manufacturing; not only because the principles behind EV transportation value sustainability, but because the batteries used to power these vehicles must be properly maintained and recycled at end of life.

Manufacturing employees must possess a deep understanding of environmental regulations, sustainable manufacturing practices, and the lifecycle impacts of EVs. By embracing sustainable principles such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and recycling, American manufacturers can minimize their environmental footprint and enhance their brand reputation as responsible stewards of the environment. Investing in sustainability training and initiatives not only aligns with consumer preferences for eco-friendly products but also positions American manufacturers as leaders in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

You might be interested in: How Caliber’s Training Program Gives Technicians a Purposeful Career | The TechEd Podcast featuring Eddie Hightower, Senior Vice President of Sustainability and Social Responsibility at Caliber Collision

Adaptability and Continuous Learning

Amatrol Ignite MM MechatronicsThe EV manufacturing landscape is an ever-changing one. On any given week you’ll read headlines of EV market demand skyrocketing, then entire EV manufacturing facilities coming to a halt, then new models being launched, then recalls announced. One thing remains consistent: EV is on the front of mind for consumers and manufacturers alike.

We know that as the technology evolves, so will the associated technical skills. Workers must be willing to embrace change, upskill in emerging technologies, and stay abreast of industry trends to remain competitive in the dynamic EV market. This means fostering a culture of lifelong learning and professional development is essential for empowering manufacturing employees to thrive amidst change and uncertainty.

The learning can start in high schools, career centers and colleges, but it doesn’t end there. Employers will need to provide access to ongoing training programs, launch their own skill development initiatives, and give their employees career advancement opportunities. This is how to attract and retain a great workforce to keep the automotive manufacturing market strong in the Midwest.

Efforts are already underway to build out standardized programs to teach these new EV manufacturing skills, ensuring we have a pipeline of workers ready for the EV revolution. If we keep up this work in the Midwest, we can ensure our students have a plethora of high-demand, high-tech jobs waiting for them.