In April, Ford Motor Co. announced it is no longer making sedan-style cars in an attempt to both reduce costs and focus more on SUVs.
The announcement is just the latest development in an auto industry that is being reshaped by the forces of automation and hiring managers in the industry are changing their hiring practices based on today’s realities.
Impact of automation
A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute looked at just how automation is affecting industrial manufacturing. Although car manufacturers have already used robots largely to replace employees who do physical labor, the report found that less than 5 percent of jobs in the US are probably going to be totally erased by automation. That means companies still need to rely heavily on flesh-and-blood employees.
Furthermore, McKinsey said, mass removal of jobs due to automation isn’t going to occur overnight. The report indicated that around 50 percent of today’s job duties may not be automated until the middle of this century.
The idea that there is only so much work to do and automation is taking away that work is a flawed conclusion. In fact, automation has allowed many businesses to boost their profits and demand for their products, which has resulted in the hiring of more workers and the opening of more facilities. Instead of causing mass unemployment, automation will require many employees to learn new abilities and ways of working.
Clearly, this is the time to start figuring out how best to adapt to a shifting business reality. Some experts have said noted that tech professionals will be the beneficiaries of this shift to automation. However, that doesn’t mean everyone on the production line should start learning code or auto companies should only focus on hiring tech professionals.
How companies can adjust
To fully leverage that advantage offered by automation, business leaders in the auto industry should invest in educations today’s and tomorrow’s workforce for the jobs of the future. Today’s worker’s need tech skills now and companies can meet that need through offer on-the-job training and continuing education classes.
Forward-thinking companies can also partner with educational institutions to guide the education of tomorrow’s workers. These partnerships also have the added benefit of helping to expose your company brand and culture to the next generation of potential auto industry workers.
John Deere is one company that is heavily invested in this kind of partnership. The farm equipment company donates equipment to local community colleges to facilitate the training technicians. Many graduates from these schools end up working for John Deere.
American auto industry companies could also start taking their cues from the European auto industry, where it is common for professionals to start their career through apprenticeships instead of a traditional college education.
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