S Ronendra Singh
The shift to electric vehicles (EVs) has triggered a major churn in the automobile industry which will require an unprecedented level of re-skilling of the engineering workforce for future growth. At every stage of production, assembly lines will need to step up as EV manufacturing has pushed a migration from mechanics to electronics.
A cross-section of industry veterans and experts BusinessLine spoke to said there would be struggle to manage and retain the right talent. They believe there is a dynamic transformation in the electronics of the vehicles and complexity of automobile engineering. This simultaneously translates into creation of jobs with TeamLease and the Ministry of Heavy Industries estimating that the EV industry will generate 7.5 lakh jobs in the next five years.
“There is a demand-supply gap. Attrition rate is already quite high this year,” CV Raman, Chief Technical Officer (Engineering), Maruti Suzuki India, told BusinessLine.
There is increasing complexity in the vehicles, be it the infotainment system, telematics or segments like surround view cameras.
“That basically means that there is a lot of software development or software also must get integrated into the vehicle. There are specific skillsets required for this,” Raman said.
Suppliers also need to localise to set up the infrastructure and make the necessary investment both in people and in manufacturing. Raman said the main thing is how to retain the talent because the aspirational level of engineers is increasing.
“There is a churn happening and the companies need to take cognisance of it,” Raman added.
According to N Saravanan, Chief Technology officer, Ashok Leyland, vehicle manufacturing is witnessing a major shift away from internal combustion engine (ICE) based power-trains.
“This means moving from more mechanical to electronics, battery design, and a lot more software. So a lot of re-skilling is required…but, there will be some specific skills which we don’t have and cannot re-skill, so that needs to be hired. I would think this applies to the entire ecosystem – one is creating jobs and other is reskilling existing manpower,” Saravanan told BusinessLine.
Some component manufacturers have already started building an EV-specific product portfolio.
“To strengthen our EV product portfolio and accelerate development, we entered into a joint venture with Friwo AG, an international manufacturer of innovative power supply units and e-drive solutions. We are now able to provide full-line e-drive solutions,” Sunil Bohra, Executive Director and Group Chief Financial Officer at Uno Minda said.