As auto companies are investing in R&D and the next-generation vehicle propulsion systems, they need talent—both who is ready and who can be trained, and there isn’t enough skilled talent available, even globally.
The engineering entrance exam results have been declared. Perhaps every budding engineer is getting counselled by academicians, neighbours, seniors and relatives. However, before you choose computer science, like your senior or neighbour’s son or daughter did, think again.
Automotive engineering is entering an interesting phase. India is poised to produce 26 million vehicles this year. Exports grew by 15% over the previous year. FDI worth about $18 billion has come into the auto industry in the last 15 years. The after-market will grow to $16 billion by 2021, from the current $7 billion. India is inching towards becoming the third-largest auto market in the world.
What does all this mean to you, the aspirant engineer? The automotive industry is the new IT in terms of jobs of tomorrow. It’s been a while since the mechanical, automobile and electrical courses were fashionable on the campus. The decline in manufacturing, high electronic imports and the growth of services industry made students move away from what is called core engineering.
Of the about 30 million vehicles sold in India, only 25,000 are electric. By 2025, it is estimated that 15% of the auto market would have switched to electric vehicles (EVs). It’s a massive ask to upgrade, transform and produce millions of EVs per year in the next decade. This means auto companies will need to run on parallel tracks—produce conventional engine vehicles and also develop EVs for tomorrow, so they have no choice but to invest in R&D in a big way. Globally, companies such as Tesla, and many others, are working on improving and further developing electric mobility.
As auto companies are investing in R&D, they need talent—both who is ready and who can be trained. As this is a new area, there isn’t enough skilled talent available, even globally. Therefore, auto companies have to manufacture talent first, and then new technologies—a mammoth task. Majors such as Mercedes-Benz, Renault-Nissan, Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Toyota have hired a significant number of R&D staff in India, and it’s estimated that thousands of new jobs in R&D will get created both by these companies and their ancillary partners/suppliers, and a lot of these would be high-end engineering jobs.
In such as scenario, one shouldn’t shy away from mechanical, electrical or automobile engineering courses any more. What’s more, if you are able to secure a seat in any of the premier colleges and excel in the field, this is also a career that can take you places, literally—Detroit, Germany, Japan, besides a high-paying job in India.
By Kamal Karanth A
The author is co-founder, Xpheno, a talent solutions company. Views are personal.