Michigan poised to have advantage as demand grows for EV jobs, experts say

'The state leadership is thinking ahead of many other states'
Posted at 12:22 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 18:51:22-04

(WXYZ) — Detroit is the Motor City and as a result, change is speeding toward us fast. We are witnessing a historic shift toward electric vehicles.

There is no doubt this rapid technological change will impact change the lives of many. Some jobs will go away, but many will also be created.

Graphic: Courtesy Pew Research Center

One example of where we are seeing growth can be found at Factory Zero, General Motors’ first dedicated EV assembly plant, where there are currently about 700 workers. At full capacity, it will employ more than 2,000. That may happen as soon as next year.

General Motors hosting 3-day career fair this week at Factory Zero
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The workers at Factory Zero are in high demand building the electric Hummer and soon the electric Silverado. The increase in demand is the result of a global effort to fight climate change and technology decreasing costs of batteries and other electric vehicle parts.

Graphic: Courtesy Pew Research Center

“You show up and feel like you are impacting your community and environment around you,” said Kristen Everhardt, Human Resources Labor Relations Partner at GM’s Factory Zero.

Everhardt has a big job, working to help recruit new workers.

“We have so many positions available right now at Factory Zero as we grow and develop this plant,” she said.

Many applicants lined up as the company held a career fair recruiting experienced skilled trades workers and entry level assembly workers.

“We do provide on the job training,” said Everhardt.

It is not all positive news. As electrification decreases demand for internal combustion engine vehicles, some jobs will over time become obsolete. There is not a clear picture of how fast this will happen and whether the number of jobs needed in electrification will outnumber them regionally. The globe is competing for the new jobs. The idea is that knowing about the change can be empowering.

“The state leadership is thinking ahead of many other states, so I’m happy and proud to see this,” said Dr. Weisong Shi, an Associate Dean at the Wayne State University College of Engineering and a Computer Scientist.

He says Michigan’s Office of Mobility, created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, may give the Motor City a big advantage as it works to coordinate between companies, educators and other stakeholders to bring business here as we shift not just to electric, but also autonomous vehicles.

Shi says computer science graduate students are getting multiple opportunities above six figures. The university works to have partnerships with many industries in its lab to give students many opportunities, but still companies ask for exclusivity.

“'How many students do you have? Can I have all of them join my team?'” Shi says multiple companies have asked him. “And I tell them I can’t give all students to one company because we need to maintain relationships.”

He says if you are considering entering the new mobility field, we are in a golden era.

At General Motors, Everhardt agrees.

“The energy that we feel here, you can tell everyone has a lot of pride in what they do and being a part of this mission with General Motors,” said Everhardt.

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