Electric vehicles: Job killer or job driver?

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The current reorientation towards electromobility is already having a visible effect on jobs in the automotive industry. The south of the country is especially hungry for new high-powered professionals.

More than 600,000 of the automotive industry’s existing jobs will be lost, directly or indirectly, by 2030 when the petrol-fueled vehicles are to be banned. This was revealed in July of this year by a study commissioned by the German vehicle manufacturers’ association (VDA) and carried out by the Ifo Institute. Just how drastically the change might affect the job market has now also been examined by the meta-search engine Joblift. It found that since October 2015, about 7,330 of the roughly 17 million published vacancies were for specialized jobs in the area of alternative drives. The figure for the last twelve months show that the average number of published vacancies per month rose to 375, corresponding to an increase of 58% over the previous year. This development leads us to expect rapid growth in the e-mobility sector, bearing in mind that it is starting from a low level.

Germany’s southern states are auto states

As we might have expected, most of these new jobs are being created in the automobile strongholds Bavaria (31%) and Baden-Württemberg (34%). Demand in the other federal states is significantly lower, with an average of 120 vacancies each. In Munich alone, there were 1,020 published vacancies over the same period.

Most of these are looking for highly trained candidates specializing in e-mobility. 87% of the advertisements call for a university degree, 53% are looking for engineers or IT specialists, and only 8% are content with completed apprenticeships. By contrast, 52% of previous advertisements for “conventional” automotive vacancies did not demand a degree at all.

Electric vehicles also create jobs

Over the last 24 months, the job market in the electromobility sector has grown two and a half times as fast as that for gasoline-powered cars. Last year the average monthly increase was 7%, while offers in other automotive industries as well as the overall German job market grew by only 3% – not even half as much. In view of these figures, Joblift estimates that, by 2030, about 208,000 jobs could be created in Germany in the electromobility sector. This would compensate for some of the jobs lost due to the ban on the petrol-fueled vehicles. However, the higher level of education required is bound to lead to a different personnel structure.

New jobs would also be created in the service and energy sectors, because in Germany, electric vehicles use locally-generated electricity rather than imported oil. As Zeit ONLINE recently reported, the European Climate Foundation estimates that this could potentially amount to 145,000 jobs by 2030.

Experts at the Fraunhofer ISI also find that, assuming market positions remain the same, the shift towards electromobility promises positive effects on both the labor market and value creation, similar to those accruing from the production of conventional vehicles. This is because German car manufacturers are currently maintaining comparable market shares in sales of electric vehicles as in conventional vehicles. However, the various reorientations that will be needed in the automotive value chain will have to be actively crafted: specialist personnel will need retraining and/or new courses made available to prepare them for the future.

Suppliers are trendsetters

This change of direction will also, even primarily, affect conventional automotive suppliers. To date, most of the technology used in alternative drives comes from China and the USA. Since engines for electric vehicles are less complex and have no need for complex gearboxes, German suppliers will find themselves under pressure, and this is already reflected in the job market: Daimler AG (7% of all vacancies), Robert Bosch GmbH (8%), the MBtech Group (6%) and the Dräxlmeier Group (3%) are all looking for specialist personnel in the field of alternative drives.

Knowledge Base

Transport & Environment: How will electric vehicle transition impact EU jobs? (PDF)




Electromobility (Image: Ifo Institute).

Electromobility also creates jobs. (Image: Ifo Institute).