CEO Column

Jennifer Safavian | Workforce Development is Key to International Automakers’ Successes

Jennifer Safavian
September 29, 2023

International automakers know firsthand a robust pipeline of skilled labor is key to driving growth.

That’s why the workforce of Autos Drive America’s members is an undisputable part of their success. And in the midst of the ongoing transition to EVs—a transformation unlike any the industry has seen since the early developments of the internal combustion engine—growing and attracting a top-tier workforce is critical to maintaining and expanding upon that success.

As many of our members electrify their models and offer more high-tech, sustainable vehicles, they are also taking steps to ensure their current and future workforce has the skills needed to design, manufacture, and service the vehicles of the future.

In recognition of National Workforce Development Month, I want to highlight our members’ efforts to build out, upskill, and shore up the automotive workforce in the U.S. International automakers directly employ more than 156,000 American workers—103,600 of which are in the manufacturing sector. Our members are investing heavily to ensure workers have the skills and training needed to drive their careers, communities, and the entire U.S. auto industry forward.

Our 2023 Economic Impact Report shows the tremendous investments international automakers are making to develop their workforce. Our members offer 140 workforce development programs across 36 states. In addition to these programs, international automakers partner with trade schools and other educational institutions in their communities to offer an additional 191 workforce development programs. Of these programs, 60% focus on upskilling and reskilling the current workforce, with 80% of the external workforce partnerships focused on educating the future workforce.

International automakers are also keeping an eye on the future and maintaining the U.S. market’s competitive edge regarding workforce development programs. According to the Economic Impact Report, 39% of companies surveyed say their programs’ focus is on the clean vehicle transition and the education of the future workforce.

When international automakers began investing in the U.S. over 60 years ago, it was access to a skilled and plentiful workforce that served as an initial driver. Fast forward to today, and nearly half of all U.S. vehicle production is conducted by our growing workforce. Our members are putting the pedal to the metal in developing their workforce—upskilling workers, providing rewarding careers, and establishing themselves as an economic driver in the communities they serve.