BACK TO SCHOOL: Thousands of highly skilled automotive engineers and production employees to specialise in electrification, digital and autonomous cars.What is green?

JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) says it will retrain approximately 29,000 employees and staff globally over the next three years to design, build and service electric vehicles ahead of its shift away from fossil-fuel-powered cars.

The British firm said the majority of its technicians at retail level should receive training on servicing EVs this financial year to tackle what it calls an emerging skills gap.

JLR said the shift to electric vehicles means many manufacturers need to provide new skills to workers trained in the construction and maintenance of internal combustion engines and says there are widespread concerns that the introduction of electric vehicles means there will be “fewer well-paid manufacturing jobs in the automotive industry” especially in the manufacture of engine and transmission parts.

Despite the gloomy forecast, JLR said its Future Skills Program would retrain “thousands of highly skilled automotive engineers and production employees who previously worked on the development of ICE cars to specialise in electrification, digital and autonomous cars”.

The number – estimated at more than 29,000 – is understood to represent 60 per cent of JLR’s employees globally.

“Our plans to electrify our product portfolio are running at pace, and we are rapidly scaling up our future skills training program to ensure we have the right talent to deliver the world’s most desirable modern luxury electric vehicles,” said JLR industrial operations executive director Barbara Bergmeier.

“Developing the skilled global workforces needed to design, build and maintain the vehicles of the future is foundational. I’m proud to say we are committing to help plug the electric and digital skills gap with a comprehensive, global training program, which will power-charge electrification both here in the UK and abroad.”

With an eye on ensuring the next generation are also equipped with future skills, JLR is also bolstering its global apprenticeship programme by adding hundreds of apprentices to the Jaguar Land Rover and retailers’ schemes around the world. More than 9500 apprentices are currently in training across the JLR network globally.

With electric vehicle sales rising sharply across Europe over the past two years, and looming fossil-fuel car bans ahead, Ms Bergmeier said that upskilling was an important priority as Jaguar moves to become entirely electric by 2025. Land Rover will introduce its first fully electric model in 2024.

JLR has developed its own training materials in cooperation with the University of Coventry and the University of Warwick. The firm said: “plant employees at all levels will require training to ensure they can work safely alongside high voltage systems”.

One such recently upskilled employee, Karl Gunnarsson – an engineer who worked at JLR on diesel and petrol catalytic converters – has moved to JLR’s Battery Cell Team where he has become Lead Cell Engineer tasked with increasing the energy density of JLR vehicle batteries to maximise range.

“This (EV range) is what we are going to be competing on … So, on this side of the business you can feel the excitement all the way up to the CEO,” said Mr Gunnarsson.

“The transition from working on internal combustion to electric was fairly straightforward. Both require a good understanding of material chemistry, and I was able to dedicate around 30 per cent of my time to independent learning.

“Now, working on electric vehicles I can see the longevity of the program and how it supports the company’s Reimagine strategy.”

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