Self-driving cars will create 30,000 engineering jobs that the US can't fill

Demand for engineers with computer-related degrees could be up to six times more than the number of graduates, worsening the industry's talent shortage.

The future of autonomous driving technology From self-driving cars that take us through our daily commute to automated trucks that deliver our packages, Bill Detwiler shares latest Tech Pro Research findings of a 2018 Autonomous Transportation report.

The rise of self-driving and electric cars will create more than 100,000 US mobility industry jobs in the next decade, including 30,000 jobs for engineers with computer science-related degrees, according to a Friday report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Detroit Mobility Lab (DML). However, demand could be up to six times more than the expected number of graduates in this field, the report found.

The US is already on the path to adopting cars of the future: By 2030, more than 10% of cars will be self-driving, and 20% will have plug-in hybrid or battery-powered electric engines, the report found. The increasingly sophisticated technology needed to power these vehicles as well as the surrounding smart city infrastructure will require engineers to have a more advanced, systems-level skillset, it noted.

SEE: Autonomous vehicles and the enterprise (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

The mobility industry will need to compete with others that are also digitally transforming and trying to attract and retain engineering talent and skilled trade workers, the report said.

"Companies cannot delay defining what their workforce needs will be for the next few years so they can begin to plan accordingly. Those that delay could find it difficult to compete," Xavier Mosquet, senior partner for the Boston Consulting Group, said in a press release. "Jobs will also be created where talent is developed."

Emerging mobility technologies like autonomous trucks and drones could mean even more engineers than predicted will be needed, the report found.

While typical engineers today work on specific automotive components, like engines or electronics, in the future, they will need to have more cross-functional skills to work on interconnected automotive systems. This means they will need skills in math, physics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, data science, and software, the report said. Because these skills remain in high demand and low supply, the talent gap will likely persist, it added.

Along with engineers, the move toward connected vehicles will created more than 65,000 jobs for skilled trade workers, including autonomous vehicle and electric vehicle mechanics, and autonomous vehicle safety drivers, according to the report. Thousands more jobs for remote-support staff for self-driving vehicles and fleet maintenance will also be needed.

These advancing technologies will mean that some existing jobs in the space are eliminated, and that workers will need to go through retraining or upskilling, the report said.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Advancements in self-driving and electric cars will create more than 100,000 US mobility industry jobs in the next decade, including 30,000 jobs for engineers. -- Boston Consulting Group and Detroit Mobility Lab, 2019
  • By 2030, more than 10% of cars will be self-driving, and 20% will have plug-in hybrid or battery-powered electric engines. -- Boston Consulting Group and Detroit Mobility Lab, 2019

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