Electric vehicle makers face shortage of engineers

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The Indian auto industry faces a talent crunch as it gears up for the impending electric vehicle (EV) revolution, there just aren’t enough engineers with expertise in the field, say executives and recruitment companies.

Current demand is pegged at more than 5,000 engineers, mostly in the electric, electronic and mechanical disciplines, which is likely to touch 15,000 over the next two years or so, according to staffing company TeamLease.

About 1,000 engineers are employed by the auto industry in India for EVs and EV-related work. Automobile companies such as Tata Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki are queueing up at India’s premier engineering institutes to attract top talent in EV technology. Some like Tata Motors have also started building their own pipeline of EV experts.

“Hiring talent for EV is a very big challenge,” said Rajeshwar Tripathi, Chief People Officer, Mahindra and Mahindra. “EV is an emerging industry and the demand itself clearly outstrips the availability. The right talent is both in context of the relevant expertise and also the requirement in numbers.”

Electric vehicles are regarded as the future as far as mobility is concerned, along with driverless cars and trucks, as countries look to cut down on emissions and slash import bills. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week that the government will soon draw up a policy on electric vehicles and alternative fuel technology to give a thrust to e-mobility in India. He called on industry to invest in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and the required charging infrastructure.

The company wants to use this to induct employees at the entry level with a passion for electric mobility. In addition, it’s also tapping the global talent pool and is scouting for those with experience in related technologies in other industries.

Only about 1,000 engineers are currently working on electric vehicles in India, according to TeamLease research. Auto companies are banking on the country’s premier engineering institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and centrally funded technical schools for acquiring talent on EVs.

Tata Motors has identified sustainable transportation as one of the core elements of its strategy. Having faced competition for talent at the campuses, it has focused on building inhouse talent.

Maruti Suzuki has set itself a target of 2020 to roll out electric vehicles. The company is starting fleet testing with 50 EV prototype vehicles by next month. This will help Maruti Suzuki validate and develop the technology to make EVs suitable for Indian climatic and road conditions.

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