28 December 2023

China - Careers in Electric Car Manufacturing

Daniel Senger of CDI Global China – Wilton Partners writes on LinkedIn that China misjudged the rapid expansion of its electric vehicle sector, leaving a shortfall of skilled technicians as young people shun manufacturing careers.

Xing Wei graduated from a vocational high school in northeastern China in 2003 and went to work as an electrician in an auto parts factory in the country’s south. The only set of wheels he could afford was a black, three-speed bicycle.

He earned $1,150 a year and shared a sweltering dormitory room with three other workers. “There was air-conditioning, but because we had to pay the electricity ourselves, we basically didn’t turn it on,” Mr. Xing said.

Two decades later, Mr. Xing, 42, makes close to $60,000 a year. He works as a senior electrician installing industrial robots at electric car factories for Nio, a Chinese automaker. Last winter, he bought a $52,000 Nio ES6 sport utility vehicle.

More than 1.5 million people now work at dozens of electric vehicle companies in China and their suppliers. The largest of them, BYD, has 570,000 workers, compared with 610,000 worldwide for Detroit’s Big Three combined.

A report issued last year by the Shanghai government found that the highest-paid 10 percent of senior factory technicians earned at least $51,000 a year.

…more than two-fifths of the country’s 11 million college graduates each year study topics related to science and engineering. That is double the proportion in the United States, which also has a shortfall of welders, electricians and other industrial workers.

But many of those college graduates aspire to work in white-collar jobs at internet companies and the civil service, not at factories.

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