China’s Electric Car Factories Struggle to Find Skilled Workers

China's electric vehicle industry is facing a shortage of skilled technicians due to the rapid expansion of the sector and a lack of interest in factory work among young people.


Shortage of Skilled Workers

The rapid growth of China's electric vehicle market has created a high demand for skilled technicians and engineers. However, there is a shortage of qualified workers in the industry.

According to estimates, there are more than twice as many jobs for skilled technicians as there are qualified workers in China. This has resulted in fierce competition among electric vehicle companies to recruit talent.

Factory workers at automotive plants earn significantly less than skilled technicians and engineers, making these positions less desirable for young people with university degrees.

Misjudgment and Lack of Training

The Chinese government misjudged the scale of the electric car boom and failed to train enough workers to meet the demand. In 2016, it was estimated that the industry would need 1.2 million workers by 2025, but there were only 170,000 workers with the necessary skills at the time.

Additionally, there has been a decline in the number of teenagers entering vocational and technical high schools in China. Many young people aspire to work in white-collar jobs at internet companies rather than in factories. This has further contributed to the shortage of skilled workers.

While some companies have implemented apprentice programs to train future factory leaders, the education system has been unable to keep up with the rapid pace of demand.

Automation as a Solution

To address the shortage of skilled workers, China's electric car industry is turning to automation. Chinese businesses installed more industrial robots in 2022 than the rest of the world combined. Nio, for example, plans to replace half of its managerial positions with artificial intelligence and a third of its factory workers with robots by 2027.

However, automation can only partially alleviate the demand for factory technicians. The industry still relies on skilled workers for various tasks, and the shortage is expected to persist.

Companies like Volkswagen are expanding in China and creating more demand for skilled technicians. Despite efforts to recruit and train workers, the industry continues to struggle with finding suitable personnel.