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The Future is Electric 

September 14, 2023

Key Takeaways: 

  • Workforce reskilling programs aim to prepare individuals for a sustainable and fulfilling career path in the new energy economy. 
  • Work-based training offers a “learn and earn” model, allowing students to take home a paycheck while discovering their potential in the industry. 

As the automotive and mobility industry shifts gears into electrification, companies must ensure their workforce is trained to adapt to the skillsets the new energy economy requires.  

National Co-chair of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP), Jennifer Melford, Chief Executive Officer of the Siemens Foundation, David Etzwiler, and President of Qmerit Network, Greg Sowder, discussed this during the 2023 Detroit Auto in a conversation moderated by CBS Detroit’s Carol Cain. 

There is a talent gap across the state of Michigan being created by the EV revolution in tandem with the retirement of the baby boomer generation. Melford’s initiative, EVITP, is already hard at work upskilling companies’ existing workforces, having certified over 30,000 electricians since launching the program. However, the gap won’t be closed just by upskilling. 

The industry will need to take an “all hands on deck” approach to talent attraction to expose jobseekers to this career pathway and place them in workplace-based training.  

“We have to make sure people understand what these jobs are about … How there’s no ceiling to these careers, how you can take them anywhere,” said Etzwiler.  

Sowder agreed, “it’s a long-term career path that allows you to have substantial income, grow your career, and eventually you can own your own business. It’s the American dream.” 

Ultimately, Etzwiler is optimistic about Michigan’s ability to meet the moment and succeed, saying, “we’ve won the lottery. All we have to do is drive across town and cash the ticket.”  

Melford echoed, “I want to know there’s meaningful work happening in real-time to make sure that we are ready for this industry and that it is adequately supported. Everyone is pulling together to make this happen.”