Electric vehicles a game changer for European manufacturing industry

​How will work environment, skills requirements and labour market be affected by the automotive industry's shift to manufacturing electric vehicles? Western Swedish industry, academia and authorities met at Chalmers to provide answers for a European study of the future of manufacturing.

Five technologies are in focus for the study of the future of manufacturing in the EU, with a time horizon of 2025. Electric vehicle technology is one of the “game changers” that are considered to have great impact on the labour market, when the automotive industry moves from the production of vehicles with conventional fuels to electric vehicle manufacturing.

Representatives from West Swedish industry and academia, Region Västra Götaland and the Swedish Energy Agency recently met the study's project group, for a detailed discussion of how electric vehicles and vehicle production may affect where the jobs will be found and what skills will be in demand in ten years time. The meeting was preceded by literature studies and expert interviews, including an interview with the Swedish Electromobility Centre that hosted the meeting.

Markus Lindström from Technopolis Group is one of those responsible for the study:

What have you talked about today?
– We have talked about the prospects for the electric vehicle industry, specifically in Västra Götaland and in Sweden in general. We have talked about new tasks, what knowledge will be in demand, potential changes in the work environment and the various parties’ roles during the transition phase.

– The discussion confirmed that electric vehicle technology will affect the future of manufacturing mainly outside of the actual production, for example in systems development.

Were any particular areas highlighted?
– We got a deeper discussion of battery manufacturing, and specific examples of how both industrial companies and Swedish Electromobility Centre works with education to meet the future need of knowledge and skills.

Can you see any specific challenges for Sweden?
– Yes, it is a challenge for Sweden that the country lacks some skills related to information and communication technology.

According to the project's literature study, electric vehicle manufacturing is expected to affect the work environment considerably less than the other four game changing technologies. Generally speaking, we can look forward to tasks that involve more cooperation, flexibility and creativity, and fewer physical routine tasks. The study also estimates that in-service training will be needed in areas such as law and business management.

The study "The impact of game-changing technologies in the European manufacturing sector" is carried out by Technopolis Group on behalf of Eurofound. The study is part of the program "The future of manufacturing", launched by the European Parliament and the European Commission (DG GROW). The five studied technologies are Electric vehicles, Additive manufacturing, Advanced robotics, the Internet of Things for industry and Industrial biotech.

Text: Emilia Lundgren

Swedish Electromobility Centre is a national Centre of Excellence for hybrid and electric vehicle technology and charging infrastructure. 

Published: Fri 31 Mar 2017.