Here in the state of South Carolina, we have significant interest in recognizing and advancing innovative strategies to support EVs (electric vehicles). The hope here is that it will facilitate and encourage investment and economic development in this sector.
The opportunities are vast. Roughly one year ago, in an executive order from the office of the Governor, we see South Carolina has experienced and cultivated tremendous growth, which has an annual economic impact of more than $27 billion and includes more than 500 companies and more than 74,000 professionals in the state across all automotive. At the time, the SC EV Economic Development Initiative was launched to prioritize and enhance ongoing economic development and recruitment efforts.
The real question on everyone’s mind: Have we made any progress in the past year? Certainly. We see the South Carolina Dept. of Employment and Workforce’s report Evaluation and Analysis of the Electric Vehicle Workforce in South Carolina shows the state has been strategic and successful in its efforts to encourage further investment and economic development in the EV space.
Now, there are more than 18,000 South Carolinians employed in four industries related specifically to the EV ecosystem including automotive electrical repair, motor vehicle manufacturing, battery manufacturing, and charging infrastructure.
Since August 2022, nine new projects have been announced, investing $10 billion and bringing 8,400 new jobs to the state. The number of new EV-related jobs is expected to increase as new announcements are made.
But like all good news, there is still a supply chain gap, where the number of individuals receiving a degree or credentials annually in a given field doesn’t align with the annual job openings in the corresponding occupation relevant to the EV industry.
So far it appears the largest shortfalls occur in the design and development sector with software developers having 844 more open jobs than graduates to fill them, followed by industrial engineers with a 477-position supply shortfall. The electric vehicle maintenance sector has a shortfall of an estimated 869 automotive technicians and mechanics, and the manufacturing sector has a shortage of 363 logisticians.
To close this gap here in South Carolina many steps need to be taken. Some of these ideas start with leveraging existing partnerships between the educational system and the workforce system, business community, and industry stakeholders. In addition, identifying appropriate curriculum and outlining clear and comprehensive career pathways for all individuals. Understanding the opportunities and seeing what exists not only today, but into the future as technology advances and teams grow opens many doors for the worker of tomorrow.
Other ideas include promote work-based learning opportunities, recruit an inclusive workforce with transferrable skills, invest in upskilling and retooling existing workers, continue to support existing industry, and address barriers that prevent individuals from accessing education and training resources.
The EV industry will offer a wide variety of new opportunities for new positions for both men and women. Building a workforce is one of the top priorities for the state, as we move into a new era of EVs. My recent tour of the Oshkosh Defense plant in Spartanburg proved that new opportunities and positions for the worker of tomorrow in training abound (more to come). Certainly, this is only the beginning.