Auto industry quickly shifting to tech jobs

A look at what's in store
Posted at 6:02 AM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 09:42:34-05

It’s not a secret: the automotive industry is undergoing a radical change.

In the past month, General Motors has announced plant closures, including one in Hamtramck, and big job cuts. News this week broke that Morgan Stanley believes Ford will slash 25,000 jobs worldwide.

While the changes seem drastic, auto experts note that the writing has been on the wall for some time — they also predict that while jobs will shrink in some sectors, they’ll boom in others.

“People haven’t noticed that much of a change until now,” said John McElroy, the auto expert from the TV show Autoline. “Now they’re sitting up and taking notice. By 2030, the rate of change is going to be extraordinarily rapid — so you have to get ready now.”

McElroy predicts that jobs will shift rapidly toward digital. Years ago, General Motors predicted the top jobs in the industry would include electrical engineers, web programmers, autonomous driver engineers and 3D printing engineers. McElroy seems to think that time is already here.

“If you have any skill set that has anything to do with electronics, electric, mobility, coding. Should I say coding three times? You’ve got to learn how to code. If you do that, you’ve got a great future in front of you.”

For blue-collar workers that means skilled trades are a go-to job right now. There’s a critical shortage of electricians and millwrights. White collar workers in the future will need vast backgrounds in science, tech and mathematics.

The good news is that tech job shifts in the automotive industry aren’t without their Michigan roots. Ford is putting a massive investment into their Corktown project to revitalize the long-vacant train depot — the goal is to turn it into a mobility hub. There are also companies already building electric batteries and motors in metro Detroit and there are even start-ups doing everything from autonomous cars to electric motor trucks.

The bad news is that those shifts are happening quickly, and thousands of workers are feeling the pinch.

“We still will need mechanical engineers,” said McElroy, “But, increasingly, we’re moving into a digital world and you better have the skill set to work in that world.”