A new report commissioned by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) projects that California’s electric transportation (ET)-related workforce will nearly double by 2024. With an estimated 3,900 ET-related businesses in 2019, California is already the leading state in electric transportation.
The report, “Electrifying California: Economic Potential of Growing Electric Transportation,” was prepared for AEE by leading workforce and economic development research consultant BW Research Partnership.
Key findings include:
California is the leading state for this sector, with jobs found in 55 of its 58 counties. Concentrated numbers of ET workers are located in the Bay Area (specifically Alameda County), Capital Region, and Southern California, plus San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Riverside, and Yolo counties.
The ET workforce is projected to see strong growth, nearly doubling the number of workers by 2024. As the central production hub for the most popular electric vehicles (EVs) on the market today, California employs an estimated 35,000 ET-related workers and is projected to add another 33,000 jobs by 2024.
ET activity accounted for $4.5 billion in Gross State Product (GSP), about equivalent to the GSP contributions of industries such as General Automotive Repair, Semiconductor Machinery Manufacturing, and Breweries in the state in 2019.
A range of occupations and skill sets are needed for ET work in California. The design and production of both software and hardware for ET goods means that a wide variety of workers with an array of skills are needed. This means growth in ET jobs presents a range of career opportunities for a broad subset of workers.
California has a robust and growing workforce in Adjacent and Support Industries that could benefit by shifting to meet ET demand. Many industries—such as Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing—stand to see increases in demand supplying the ET supply-chain. A total of 573,000 workers in Adjacent and Support Industries have skills that would allow them and their companies to transition to ET-related work with relatively little training or upskilling required.
Current training and education programs span the design, development, manufacture, repair, and installation of ET and charging infrastructure. The state would benefit from expanding access to training and education for younger, underrepresented workers and those in rural and central valley regions.
Establishing long-term policy and market certainty would help the state retain its leading position in ET jobs and economic benefits. Codifying robust zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure targets will send strong signals to invest in California. Tracking progress and key workforce trends will help leaders understand how to adjust to the rapidly evolving ET industry and to support quality jobs for all Californians.
The Salton Sea presents a new market opportunity. Lithium, an essential metal component in most ET batteries, is found in high concentrations in the Salton Sea brine and several ventures are experimenting with viable extraction methods. Lithium mining could bring numerous jobs to the region.
The report offers specific policy recommendations to accelerate EV market growth and the burgeoning supply-chain businesses in California:
Establish long-term policy and market certainty. Fluctuating policies and incentives can introduce business risk that dampens investment in technologies and workforce development needed to support EVs. Clear, durable market signals from the Governor’s Office, California Legislature, and state agencies will help ensure California remains a global EV leader as the industry continues to mature. Efforts such as Governor Newsom’s proposed 2021-2022 State Budget—which includes $1.5 billion in equitable investment toward zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure over several years—would beget the long-term market certainty needed to fuel California’s advanced transportation industry and attract new investment to the state.
Continue to create High Road opportunities to grow California’s EV workforce. Developing a skilled workforce should be considered an investment – not a cost. California should continue to explore opportunities to leverage public funding toward EVs and infrastructure in a manner that reasonably supports inclusive, quality jobs for all Californians.
Track progress and key workforce trends. With an industry that is evolving as rapidly as electric transportation, California should take the opportunity to regularly track key opportunities, challenges, and metrics associated with growing the EV workforce. Policies that encourage frequent data collection and reporting among the state’s energy, transportation, and economic development agencies would give market players a clear view into how the industry is evolving and what trends to anticipate as the EV industry continues to mature.
Codify robust zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure targets: Executive Order N-79-20 sets nation-leading targets to move California toward 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for light-duty vehicles and toward a fully zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleet. The CEC’s inaugural AB 2127 report also provides a preliminary estimate of the levels of EV charging infrastructure needed to support California’s zero-emission vehicle targets. California should seek to codify the zero-emission vehicle goals in Executive Order N-79-20, begin the regulatory processes required to implement these vehicle goals and establish infrastructure targets that align with the CEC’s ongoing EV charging infrastructure demand analyses.