Electric Vehicle Charging: Getting Talent Into A New Industry
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By Indraneel Dass, Energy & Renewables Practice Group Lead Asia, InterSearch Worldwide
EVs have become the most significant addition to the electric load since the rise of air conditioning in the 1950s. It’s taken a long, long time for electric vehicles to gain acceptance in the minds of the public or consumers, and a lot of that is probably down to the industry’s reluctance to build the infrastructure, while also governments may have been too beholden to big oil in the past.
There was a perception that electric cars would be a poor choice of vehicle, unfashionable, geeky at a time when geeks weren’t cool. But that still doesn’t explain why trucks and other functional vehicles didn’t switch to electric. It’s probably a combination of lack of infrastructure, shortcomings in technology, and the challenges therein. But now, it seems the whole world is waking up to electric vehicles and their growth will probably mirror that of automatic cars, which have all but replaced manual cars in many countries. And on the subject of automatic, another interesting aspect of electrification is, of course, that it makes sense to integrate more electronics into vehicles – meaning, more autonomy.
All these additional electric vehicles will need charging facilities and energy networks need to be able to handle this without overloading the grid. The peak in demand will spike even more in the early evening when people plug in their EVs after work and this will intensify the negative impacts on the grid. This is an example of the unwished-for side effects that can impact utilities everywhere as the EV market grows.
The EV charging station market is expected to grow 5 to 7 times in the next 5 years. It was valued at 5 billion dollars in 2020 and optimistic predictions see it reach around 35 billion by 2026, which would make EVs represent 15% of all car sales worldwide within 5 years. The Asia-Pacific region, in particular China is the champion of the EV Charging market, followed not surprisingly by Europe and the US.
The ambition of charging station manufacturers is to decrease the costs related to making the final product and deploying it on the market. For example, shortage or increased price of key components such as copper could be a significant obstacle to overcome. This is a challenge that would affect the operators as well as consumers.
The good news for this market is that there is already an existing electric infrastructure in place, which makes deployment of charging stations in multiple regions, a relatively easy task.
Future of EV Charging
Taking a glimpse into the future we will see a lot of improvement of the current charging technology. For instance, it will look a lot like the refueling experience. In the following years the cars charging voltage will be increased from 500V to 800V, also the power of a single charger will increase to 350kW compared to the current 60kW. In practice, this means charging time will be shortened from about 1 hour to 10 – 15 minutes.
The IoT would bring a revolution to the EV charging experience. It will smartly connect grids, networks, green energy, batteries and cars for optimal use of resources and for a better charging experience. This system would be known as IoV (Internet of Vehicles)
Demand for electric trucks and buses will increase significantly. Big companies of the likes of Amazon and Walmart want to be perceived as environmentally friendly. Part of their current strategy is deployment of zero emission commercial vehicles. For that reason, EV charging players would need to create mega-chargers which will allow the long-distance operability of these large electric vehicles.
Public EV chargers will continue to expand with a double-digit percentage increase per year. In terms of growth speed and development, this makes the industry one of the most promising ones. In 2019 public chargers were up 85% compared to the year before. In 2020 the growth was half of that, mostly due to the covid-19 pandemic. Today, the majority of EV drivers charge their cars at home or at the office with mostly slow chargers. We will see a great surge in demand for fast and ultra-fast public chargers in the coming years, eased by convenience as well as shorter charging times at a lower cost in the future.
Right now, according to the Open Charge Map, there are almost 150,000 charging stations across about 75,000 locations around the world. This sounds like an under-estimation, but at least someone’s counting. The country with the most charging stations is the USA (21,000) followed by Western European markets. And even though home-installed chargers can be bought for $500 to $1,000, there will still be a demand for public chargers because electric vehicles don’t go very far on a single charge – they need to be topped up regularly.
So, a gigantic market in the making, whichever way you look at it. With top players including ChargePoint, ABB, BP, Shell, Hyundai, RWE and others pining for pole position.
Identification of Talent for the EV industry
“Electric vehicles are an important component of the growing green economy because they can reduce pollutants and dependence on fossil fuels”
says Harris Karaolides, Partner at InterSearch Greece and Energy & Renewables Practice Group Global Lead.
“Jobs in the electric vehicle industry show great potential for new employment opportunities, and employment is expected to grow in all of the major sectors of the industry. In addition, jobs will be created as the electric infrastructure is expanded to support these vehicles. These new jobs will cover a wide variety of occupations.”
The kind of skills and talent the industry is looking for
The skills and talent needed for these jobs are rapidly evolving as the industry is increasingly moving towards automation and digitalization. The sector is looking for mobility engineers, material scientists, top tech talent in artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, data science, and analytics.
Electric vehicle systems are more complex than a traditional internal combustion engine, so they require special manufacturing processes. Many of the workers thus involved in the manufacture of electric vehicles have previously worked in traditional vehicle manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs in the electric vehicle industry include various assemblers, machine tool operators, machinists, and industrial production managers.
Ana Ber, Partner at InterSearch Romania and Energy & Renewables Practice Group Lead, Central & East Europe, comments:
“18 million net jobs can be created by 2030 worldwide by limiting global warming to 2°C by the end of the century. Employment in the energy sector will increase to 100 million in 2050, predicts the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). With decarbonization, 84% of total energy jobs in 2050 would be in renewables, 11% in fossil fuels, and 5% in nuclear. IRENA data also show that renewable energy job growth will significantly outweigh losses in the nuclear and fossil fuels sectors – but for this transformation to become reality, the world needs a skill and training revolution because skill mismatches limit the transition to a low-carbon energy system in Europe and beyond. The workforce in the energy industry, especially in conventional energy sectors, is male dominated and aging – additional threats to a sector which never placed much emphasis on diversity anyway. Soft skills including consumer awareness, problem solving, team working, self-management, and communication are key employability skills. New skills required by energy transformation sector sit at the interface of digital, engineering, business, and technology, with software development, data analysis and economics acumen on top. Companies need to invest in skilling the experts they need – it is crucial for companies in the sector to look outside it at skills that are interchangeable, in sectors such as fossil fuels, other renewables, and also in the IT sector – it will be challenging but an absolute necessity must in order to attract IT specialists. The good news is that jobs in battery R&D and production aren’t tied to a specific location the way that, say, working a coal mine or maritime platform are, and allow companies to compete for a global talent pool, and this is where InterSearch could be of real help.”
Jobs in EV Charging Stations
According to a study by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley, the largest source of job creation related to alternative fuel vehicles is expected to come from the construction of a nationwide charging infrastructure.
Building charging stations will require changes to existing infrastructure. Many large utilities companies—and some large cities—are already developing plans to handle growing numbers of electric vehicles. Urban and regional planners will be involved in planning the infrastructure upgrades, while electrical power-line installers and repairers will lay the wires that carry this extra electricity. Electricians will install the charging stations.
There’s a huge shortage of talent today! The 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.
Building talent at times 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.
According to a March 2018 report by KPMG, the existing workforce also needs to be upskilled and revamped to cater to the demands of workforce requirements for electric vehicles. “Overall, development of knowledge and its disbursement, gestation period for development of infrastructure and large-scale implementation of the developed processes are impediments to realization of electric mobility,” the report noted.
“The pace of mobility technology development is quite fast and the skillset for this industry is constantly changing”
says Malena Juarez, Partner at InterSearch Mexico and Energy & Renewables Practice Group Lead, Americas.
“The OEM´s will compete with and attract talent from digital companies when looking for qualified engineers with artificial intelligence and digital knowledge. It will make it necessary for companies to identify critical roles and skills at the different levels in the organization. This war for talent will create inflationary pressures on salaries, as is already happening in China where such people are already getting job offers for salaries much higher than usual market rates, plus perks. And this is where InterSearch comes in, with our expertise in identifying and engaging unique and sometimes rare profiles, and our understanding of the industry, we can add value to the talent acquisition process.”
Jan Øinæs, Partner at InterSearch Norway and Energy & Renewables Practice Group Lead, North & West Europe, concludes:
“The introduction of electric vehicles has not only caused a disruption to the global automobile industry, but also to the numerous industries supporting this incredible development. This too includes the HR and recruitment industry in how the skills and experience required for the various initiatives we are seeing across the globe cannot be limited to, nor solved by mere local search initiatives, but include a much broader international scope. Although this was also the case pre-Covid, working from home or from remote locations internationally has proved to be a viable alternative to the physical dependency we once adhered to as best-practice. As one of the world’s leading executive search organizations InterSearch Worldwide is uniquely positioned to represent clients locally, whilst being able to identify and access talent globally. Being early movers in the coordination of our global resources towards clients representing battery production and EV charging, InterSearch Worldwide already combines its global reach with in-depth understanding of the industry’s unique value chain.”
Contact the InterSearch Energy, Oil / Gas & Renewable Energy Group subject matter experts
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InterSearch Worldwide is a global organization of executive search firms consistently ranked amongst the largest retained executive search practices in the world. InterSearch is currently operating with over 90 offices in more than 50 countries. Established in 1989, InterSearch prides itself on carefully selecting the best executive search firms to partner as a member of a global entity with high integrity, transparency, and depth of experience. InterSearch prides itself on having a global reach but local impact.
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