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Expand chart
Data: Brookings; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The transition to digital mobility — the diffusion of digital technology into every transportation product and service, including autonomous vehicles — will impact at least 9.5 million people already working in transportation-related occupations, according to a new Brookings report.

Why it matters: Every week brings announcements around technology breakthroughs, capital infusions and new consumer-facing services. But that news often distracts from a pressing need to develop the workforce that will create, manage and maintain AVs, in addition to overseeing the digital services and built environment around them.

Where it stands: The public conversation so far has been either too narrow, focusing on drivers alone, or too wide, sweeping up all workers who drive as part of their professional routine.

Reality check: The pool of workers who will be affected by digital mobility — from professional drivers to employees in the motor vehicle and transportation support industries — is bigger than sizable sectors like finance, real estate and administrative services.

  • And that's without counting the many people working in the computing and telecommunications industries on the R&D that will power new transportation technologies.
  • Critically, the transportation industry represents a core component of work in every state — not just those that manufacture vehicles or have a higher proportion of truck drivers. No state employs less than 5% of its workforce in mobility-related occupations.

The bottom line: AVs and digital mobility platforms are coming to market fast. Preparing the workforce for them will require partnerships among cities and states, educational institutions, civic organizations and private employers — and a clearer understanding of the jobs and skills that will be most in demand.

Adie Tomer is a fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program and leads its Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative.

Go deeper

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

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