Technology is the primary force driving changes in employment within the automotive industry. The increase of technology in cars and manufacturing is both an opportunity and a curse. As driving jobs are clearly threatened by AV’s (self-driving vehicles) new jobs are created like analytic engineers, 3D printing technicians and cybersecurity experts.
It’s a whole new game with cybersecurity since cars are getting ever more open to being hacked without physical contact. Why break to steal a car when you can hack it and tell it to drive to you. Then again, even an unsuccessful hack to a moving vehicle could prove fatal for dozens of people. The process of cybersecurity is needed to stop undesirables getting hold of self-drive cars in a process called “car hacking” where the dashboard and gearbox can be accessed from a distance. As a result, jobs are created for “white-hat” hackers who test the systems.
Engineering analysis is about applying the scientific process of analysis to work out how different forces react to the automobile. This area is also interested in remote systems. Another position that has existed but will now change radically is the drivability expert. This person used to evaluate the design for ergonomics and ease of operation. This position going forward will require experience with UXUI (user experience user interface) so that computer controls are intuitive instead of distracting.
There will also be a rise in jobs concerning electric and hybrid cars. Because they both require the need for better battery technology, this area of research is vital to improving the car driving experience.
On the assembly line, automation has been taking over for a long time. Some 800 million jobs could be affected by the change worldwide as robots begin doing the work people do now. It’s actually likely that many of these jobs will transition to part-time instead of being laid off, but it remains to be seen how unions will respond.
It seems whatever happens the Big Three companies; General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler will continue to be the biggest employers in America, also known as the Detroit Three. Statistics are confused but it seems that 10% of American jobs (that is 14 million) will be at risk if these companies plummeted. Luckily that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.
It seems sometimes that cars must be built in Michigan. Forbes.com points to Fiat Chrysler moving a plant from Mexico back to Michigan. Although the car companies concentrate on Detroit technology is bringing in new players and we shouldn’t be surprised if they’re headquartered in Silicon Valley. Germany is also a big testing area for autonomous cars and engineers there are collaborating with designers in Canada and programmers in India to create the next wave of car for none other than Apple.inc.
It is difficult not to include politics in the discussion since tariffs are all over the news. It’s not just the tariffs on imported cars; the cost of steel has a huge impact on car makers. Although it does mean that fewer cars will be imported from abroad and international companies such as Toyota and Honda will increase the domestic manufacture of cars for the US market.
There has been an increase in the number of dealerships since 2014, which should mean there are more jobs for salesmen and lot porters, etc. (according to Staticia.com). Most gas stations went to self-pay a while ago so those job losses are mostly absorbed. So far it seems that jobs in Highway rest areas seem to be fairly stable and have been for decades; the only threat to these jobs would be high gas prices, higher freeway speeds, and affordable train or airline fares–so little threat there.
Technology is impacting jobs across the board but the simple lesson to draw here is that if you aren’t growing you’re withering. Always keep your skills up to date.