Lack of engineering talent in the EV sector
BNEF predicts that over the next two decades worldwide electric vehicle sales will rise from 2 million last year to 56 million by 2040. Electric cars will soon overtake ICE cars as EVs are close to matching the cost of gasoline and diesel-powered cars and are even cheaper to operate.
Closer home, the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020 projects sale of 6-7 million electric vehicles on Indian roads by 2020, also plans to set up capacity for generating 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022.
To boost the transition towards e-mobility, Niti Aayog proposed that three-wheelers sold after 2023 and two-wheelers sold after 2025 in India, should be electric.
A report by BNEF further states that:
- By 2040, about 13 percent of the passenger vehicles plying on Indian roads will be electric.
- And if the sale of EVs grows as the study has predicted, they will constitute about 6.6 percent of annual vehicle sales by 2030 and go up to 27 percent by 2040.
The kind of skills and talent the industry is looking for
As per the Automotive Mission Plan 2026, the automotive sector could soon become one of the largest job-creating industries by creating an additional 65 million jobs.
The skills and talent needed for these jobs are rapidly evolving as the industry is increasingly moving towards automation and digitization. The auto sector is looking for mobility engineers, material scientists, top tech talent in artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, data science, and analytics.
How the government needs to address this gap
Talent crunch has been a prevalent issue in India. Each year, lakhs of engineers graduate but the number of engineers that actually get placed in tech companies is a lot lower than expected.
As per a Teamlease report released in 2018, the demand for engineers in the field is over 5,000 engineers, which is projected to go up to 15,000 in the coming two years. But only 1,000 engineers are employed in the EV sector.
There’s a huge shortage of talent today! The auto industry needs experts on design, product, infrastructure, storage. Increasingly, the lack of trained personnel is becoming a huge concern, while on the other hand the government also needs to ensure that the existing workforce is upskilled and ready to cater to the demands of the EV sector.
Tamil Nadu’s EV policy is a clear example of the kind of infrastructure and talent training that the country needs. The draft proposed that the curriculum for engineering colleges, polytechnics, and ITI, be redesigned to better fit the requirements of the EV industry.
Building talent is more effective than ‘buying’ the talent
Since the demand for EV outstretches its supply, companies face stiff competition in getting the right talent for their EV Initiatives. Efforts should focus on building in-house talent through training programs.
In the long run, companies should look towards building talent from within rather than acquiring the talent.
Steps and measures to be taken to upskill engineers
Engineering colleges need to introduce specialized courses, workshops, seminars, industry visits to encourage a deeper knowledge of understanding and building EVs, a thorough study on battery chemistry, EV components, technological developments, safety measures involved, etc. To reduce the gap between the current academics and industry expectations, colleges can encourage internships and tie-up with startups that are helping engineers be skilled for the all-electric future.
Adequate support in terms of time, infrastructure and sponsorship could further encourage engineers to take up EV projects hands-on for deeper understanding and practical applications. Multiple startups these days are developing the technology and the curriculum, along with automakers to train engineers to be industry-ready with knowledge improvement programs.