Feb 1, 2019

Tomorrow's cars need a new kind of workforce

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're on the cusp of the most dramatic shift in transportation in a century, but red flags from a series of experts warn that America's workforce is not prepared to meet the needs of the digital mobility era.

Why it matters: The advent of self-driving and electric cars will require a workforce with new, advanced skills to create, manage and maintain them. But there's likely to be a serious shortage of people with those skills — so experts say governments, corporations and educational institutions need to work together to create modern training programs to fill the gaps.

The big picture: Truck drivers and taxi drivers are often singled out as the most likely to be displaced by autonomous vehicles. But the Brookings Institution estimates that digital mobility, including AVs, will change the jobs of more than 9.5 million workers — or more than 1 out of every 20 U.S. workers.

New jobs will be created, too. Self-driving and electric cars will help create more than 100,000 U.S. jobs in the next 10 years, says Boston Consulting Group.

  • As many as 30,000 broadly trained computer engineers will be needed to develop these cars of the future, according to BCG — but that's six times the expected number of graduates.
  • Instead of specialists like today's chassis or powertrain engineers, these new engineers will need to be cross-functional "tinkerers," with expertise in math, physics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, data sciences and software, per BCG.
  • Another 70,000 skilled trade workers will be needed to support AVs — everything from electric vehicle mechanics and AV safety drivers to remote-support staff and fleet operators.

The changing workforce demands are already forcing automakers and their suppliers to make big strategic bets.

  • GM purchased Cruise Automation, Ford invested in Argo AI and Aptiv bought nuTonomy — moves all made at least in part to boost internal talent pools.
  • While preparing to close 5 North American factories and eliminate 15,000 jobs, GM is shifting thousands of engineers to work on AVs and EVs, doubling its resources on new mobility efforts.
  • But these actions don't begin to address the current and future skills gap, experts argue.

The public sector, including educational institutions, also needs to step up, by modernizing curricula and enabling new certifications, says Adie Tomer, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

"We need government to be just as nimble as the private sector, in order to keep pace from a workforce perspective. Otherwise, we'll get to a stage where it will be clear that there’s a gulf between what’s technically possible and what we are able to execute at scale."
— Adie Tomer

What we're watching: An initiative by the Detroit Mobility Lab could be a model for these efforts.

  • It created the non-profit Michigan Mobility Institute to train professionals and tradespeople in artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, and other fields.
  • Working with leading Michigan universities, it aims to offer the first "Master of Mobility" degree starting in 2021.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,500 in the U.S. Sunday evening, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday that this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,270,069 — Total deaths: 69,309 — Total recoveries: 259,810Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 335,524 — Total deaths: 9,562 — Total recoveries: 17,266Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Scoop: Inside the epic White House fight over hydroxychloroquine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force had its biggest fight yet on Saturday, pitting economic adviser Peter Navarro against infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci. At issue: How enthusiastically should the White House tout the prospects of an antimalarial drug to fight COVID-19?

Behind the scenes: This drama erupted into an epic Situation Room showdown. Trump's coronavirus task force gathered in the White House Situation Room on Saturday at about 1:30pm, according to four sources familiar with the conversation. Vice President Mike Pence sat at the head of the table.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 53 mins ago - Health