Ford CEO Jim Farley admits that the company will not be able to upskill all of its employees to manufacture electric vehicles (EVs).
- The demand for EVs is rising, and manufacturers are meeting the challenge, but the shift in focus will not come without its downsides.
- As more automakers switch to EV manufacturing, workers skilled at traditional automaking may be left behind.
- Ford, the largest U.S. automaking employer, is focusing on growing its existing EV offerings, but this kind of manufacturing requires different talent than what current employees offer, Fortune reports.
- “This is the hard part: I’m not sure we can upskill everyone; I don’t think they’re going to make it,” Ford CEO Farley says. “There’s a new skill set we’re going to need, and I don’t think I can teach everyone—it will take too much time. So there is going to be disruption in this transition.”
Why it’s news
Ford employs 57,000 union-represented manufacturing workers in the U.S. Farley’s warning indicated that there will be significant disruption in the industry as the company grows its EV division.
The company plans to hire another 18,400 employees incrementally in the next three years. Over half of these new employees will manufacture EVs and the battery packs they require, Fortune reports.
As Ford charges ahead with its plans, it will need new talent. EVs can run on the same factory lines that traditional vehicles are made on, but there is one significant difference between the two: more than 400 volts of electricity.
The massive amount of power in these vehicles makes them dangerous to work on if employees are not adequately trained. This also means that every employee on the floor must receive certification for his or her safety—something that takes time and money.
“We’re a long way from ready,” Farley says, referencing the company’s small talent pool for EV production.
But Ford has a history of retooling outdated resources. As part of its plans to increase EV production, Ford has invested a couple billion dollars into completing the Michigan Central Station project, which was abandoned long ago. The station, which has since fallen into disrepair, could become Ford’s new software mobility hub for its new high-tech automobiles.
“I think we’re going to need to do a lot of projects like that,” he says.