Demand for skilled workers in Southern California’s electric vehicle industry is growing, driving up salaries and filling local training programs, according to a new report.
The boom is fueled by the high concentration of EV companies in the region, which are striving to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
“Finding workers with skills can be challenging,” said Jim Skeen, a spokesman for downtown-based electric bus maker BYD Motors Inc., which has a plant in Lancaster. “But I wouldn’t say there is a shortage for talents. People are eager to be part of this industry and they are eager to learn.”
He said the company plans to increase its hiring mainly in northern L.A. County.
Currently, more than 119,000 workers are employed in the Southern California EV industry, according to a report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
And more will be needed. For example, the city of Los Angeles plans to upgrade its entire bus fleet to be emissions-free before the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to the executive directive “L.A.’s Green New Deal” Mayor Eric Garcetti signed in February.
The city is the largest client of BYD. The Department of Transportation has purchased 134 of the roughly 460 electric buses BYD has sold to Southern California customers since its formation in 2013.
BYD is partnering with Antelope Valley College on an apprenticeship program to train additional workers, Skeen said. “Hopefully, the students would come to BYD when they get out of the program,” he added, “but we also help them to develop the skills that would apply anywhere.”
The growing competition for skilled workers has pushed up salaries, too. The EV industry now pays an average annual wage of $80,900 in Southern California, compared to an average of all other industries of $60,400, according to the LAEDC report.