Workers Need More Training to Bring Autonomous Cars to Life

More workers will be needed to support the autonomous car infrastructure.

Timothy Healey
    Mar 08, 2017 11:15 AM  PT
Workers Need More Training to Bring Autonomous Cars to Life
author: Timothy Healey    

In order to get more autonomous cars on the road, a lot more workers, including engineers and information technology (IT) workers, will need a lot more training.

That's according to a new study by the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan.

The study finds that there is demand for workers related to connected and autonomous cars in 49 fields. Those fields include IT, civil engineering, cybersecurity, transportation systems engineering, software development, and transportation planning.

The study also says that many of the needed jobs will require specialized training on top of the four-year degrees that are already required.

For example, computer scientists may need more training when it comes to the type of computer code they'd need to develop in order to bring about connected cars that can wirelessly "talk" to each other. Another example is civil engineers – they may need special training to build and maintain "smart" roads.

The study found that software developers, information security analysts, and computer system engineers and architects with experience with connected and autonomous vehicles will be the most in demand. However, as these types of vehicles move from development to production, it's natural that manufacturing and production-related jobs will be in higher demand. So those who have expertise in manufacturing, infrastructure, and quality control will benefit.

Since cybersecurity will be so important, many workers will need federal security clearances. Currently, non-U.S. citizens who are in the States to work on HB-1 visas cannot hold the required security clearances. So unless there are changes in that program, the pool of available workers may be limited.

On the other hand, workers who live in the right places – or are willing to move their – might stand to make decent money – the study shows that the average salary for jobs related to connected and autonomous vehicles rose from $82,490 in 2011 to $94,733 in 2015-2016.

While it might be expected that these workers would be in most demand in Silicon Valley, Southern California, and Detroit, the study finds that the most demand for these skills is in Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Washington, D.C.
The group also found that 10,344 jobs with related skills and specializations were advertised nationwide in 2015-2016.

That's a number that's likely to grow as automakers continue to develop – and eventually, produce – autonomous cars.

The automotive industry has always supported an ecosystem of related jobs. This could be an expansion of that sphere, assuming the tech remains on track.

Industry Week

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