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A Guide to Hiring and Retaining Advanced Talent for Automotive

Automotive companies must hire and retain advanced tech talent to compete for talent. The talent gap is widening, and competition to hire skilled professionals is fierce.

  • Employers must acknowledge their companies are technology companies manufacturing cars.
  • Identify the skills and competencies required for advanced tech roles such as computer vision and interactivity.
  • Design a future conducive to creativity, adaptability, and innovation by implementing strategic workforce planning.
  • Devise a talent strategy, a skills-based framework, a leadership environment, and a structure facilitating the efficient flow of ideas and skills.
  • Automotive companies are transforming with the advancement of AI, ML, and robotics. Hiring advanced tech talent has become a top priority for automotive companies to become competitive. 

    However, the talent gap is widening, and competition for these skilled professionals is fierce. 

    So, automotive companies must develop a comprehensive strategy to hire and retain advanced tech talent. 

    Overview of the Talent Landscape 

    The demand for electric vehicles and the use of AI, big data/analytics, 3D printing, and Human-Machine Interface (HMI), automotive companies’ future is one of vision and innovation. 

    Autonomous technologies, IoT, and edge computing are changing car manufacturing and their performance. 

    In addition, consumer expectations, energy concerns, regulations, supply chain bottlenecks, work models, and employer-employee relationships also play a role.

    Auto Talent Ladnscape

    Tech workers may be drawn to automotive companies as cars become computers. Yet, workforce planning in automotive companies must rethink how to: 

    1. Compete for high-tech talent and retain new skills in environments not designed for them, including devising retention strategies. 
    2. Develop and engage internal talent to support innovative work models. Workforce planning must involve career pathing and upskilling as talent acquisition isn’t enough. 
    3. Manage supply chain disruption and deliver value from procurement (preventive supplier risk management and vertical supply chain control strategies) to manufacturing (onboarding the right skills to manage supply chain uncertainty). 
    4. Address new regulations and compliance norms (Emission Euro 7 and China 7) and hire environmental, social, and governance (ESG) experts to scale innovation with agility. 
    5. Design new operating models, culture, and talent practices to cultivate rare skills and to provide an environment to thrive, innovate, design, and deliver. 

    Workforce Planning Advice to Develop an Advanced Tech Talent 

    Let’s look at the current talent landscape and explore the best practices to hire and retain advanced tech talent in automotive companies.

    1. Acknowledge as a tech-first company

    Experts say traditional firms’ workforce planning leaders must quickly accept that they’re technology companies that make cars. Then, create a tech-friendly organizational structure that lets the company adapt quickly to market changes. 

    If a company doesn’t live up to its tech hype, newly hired software engineers will leave within six months. Not structuring and aligning results in high disengagement and turnover rates. 

    Automotive companies are upskilling and reskilling their employees in software skills rather than heavy engineering skills, letting them stick with automotive companies and develop their careers.

    2. Identify the required skills and competencies

    Workforce planning leaders must identify the skills and competencies required for advanced tech roles such as computer vision and interactivity. 

    They can then use this information to create job descriptions to accurately reflect the skills and experience needed for these roles. 

    Even professionals without industry experience can succeed in facilities roles. It is key for workforce planning teams to understand industry similarities, read resumes, and assess accomplishments. 

    An electronics company’s etching equipment technician can impress workforce planning managers in automotive companies with her technical skills, safety knowledge, and ability to transfer skills quickly. 

    A candidate’s critical thinking, communication, and teamwork skills help mitigate concerns about their lack of auto industry experience. 

    Workforce planning teams must also consider a candidate’s technical and soft skills.

    3. Create a strong employer brand and culture

    As software is part of autonomous and electric cars, would a software engineer prefer automotive companies to tech giants? 

    The answer is company culture makes a difference. 

    It is imperative for workforce planning to create a new culture with the right messaging to convince talent that they are as cutting-edge as the Bay Area tech companies. 

    Legacy companies must maintain an inclusive culture as their workforce splits between manufacturing hubs like Detroit and coastal tech hubs like San Francisco. 

    Newer EV companies, unbound by geography, can start building a compelling company culture. 

    EV hardware and software developer ECARX has offices in the UK, China, and Sweden. ECARX attracts top talent by combining the appeal of a tech start-up with the stability of established automotive companies.

    4. Offer long-term career growth and development

    Due to government action, the EV industry thrives while the tech industry overhires and mass layoffs due to declining demand. The climate spending bill will make more than half of US cars electric by 2030. 

    By 2030, the UK and India have announced the vision of selling 100% electric cars, and China will make intelligent connected cars by 2025. 

    EV workforce planning teams can offer development programs for new hires to adapt to new government regulations. Market conditions, skills, and potential should be the main hiring criteria. 

    Formalized training programs ensure that candidates with years of technical expertise are paid accordingly and give younger talent a sense of purpose and direction for their future in the organization. 

    Additionally, workforce planning teams must give recent graduates a join. Purpose drives the young more than money and status. 

    Internally grown talent is more appreciative and loyal, helping the auto industry solve its retention problem. 

    Way Forward for Automotive Companies 

    Automotive companies must design a future conducive to creativity, adaptability, and innovation. Essential components must include: 

    • Strategic workforce planning to determine the skills to support new business challenges effectively, balance required skills while optimizing headcount and anticipate future skills demand. 
    • A talent strategy to design an approach that effectively cultivates, rewards, and engages this talent. 
    • A skills-based framework and innovative career paths that enable employees to navigate their careers and development and enable businesses to identify and capitalize on specific skill sets. 
    • A culture to foster a leadership environment, working norms, and behavior conducive to nurturing talent and innovation. 
    • A structure that reduces hierarchical nature while facilitating the efficient flow of ideas and skilled talent from the periphery to the center. 
    • Work models that account for different ways of working, including workplace and location strategies. 

    Talent intelligent platforms like Draup for Talent can analyze workforce needs, deliver recruitment metrics to close the skills gap and plan high-impact strategies in automotive companies.