Volkswagen electro mobility training programmes

Last updated: 3 August 2023

As Volkswagen looks to transform its vehicle fleet to electric vehicles in the coming decades, the company has taken steps to enable its employees to develop the requisite skills for jobs using new production methods. The shift to electric cars will be especially important for Germany, given that an estimated 5% of all jobs in the country are directly (830 000 workers) or indirectly (1.3 million workers) linked to the automotive industry.

Volkswagen commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute for Organization and Industrial Engineering IAO in Stuttgart to undertake a study on workforce changes that emobility and digitalisation will bring about for the company. The study, Employment at Volkswagen in 2030, was based on interviews with 60 experts from all of the company’s business lines as well as analysis of over 30 employee groups. Overall, the analysis found that workforce disruptions can be managed smoothly if the right measures are introduced at an early stage to transition the qualifications of employees. In fact, the study found that employment disruptions would be lower than the 35-62% losses predicted by previous studies across the German automotive industry by 2030. The study considered employment losses from the switch to electromobility both in terms of vehicle production and component production, with greater impacts predicted in the component segment as the electric powertrain requires less manpower compared to conventional powertrains. Some of the employment losses could be offset by new areas of knowledge, such as the development and production of battery cells. On digitalisation, the study finds that job creation can be achieved in the medium term, though should be supported by sufficient resources given the complexity of implementation.

In an effort to manage the workforce transition, in 2019 Volkswagen set up its “Faculty 73” training programme for software developers to work in the auto sector. Under the two-year programme, students receive advanced IT education that includes rigorous programming training and project assignments toward becoming a Junior Software Developer. Upon successful conclusion, the company offers students a permanent position at the company. For participants who do not have a professional qualification, the programme offers an additional four months of vocational training followed by a Chamber of Industry and Commerce examination.

In the first year of the programme, students receive basic training customised to their existing level of knowledge. In the second year, students are taught more detailed, practical programming, including several programming languages. The training is tailored toward the company’s needs based on which division the students will eventually work.

The programme, which was developed by the Volkswagen Academy, is held at the Volkswagen MobileLifeCampus, close to the company’s Wolfsburg factory in Germany. In the first year of launching, most of the students already worked for the company, though half of applicants were external, many from the Lower Saxony region.

In addition, at its Zwickau plant in Germany, which Volkswagen fully converted into the production of electric cars in 2019, the company undertook a massive requalification and training programme for its 7 700 employees over the period 2019-2021. Among them, 3 000 employees received basic e-mobility skills under a two-day training directed at assembly workers, while 3 500 employees received product training courses covering topics such as operating concepts, test procedures and driver assistance systems. An additional 160 employees received “high-voltage training” over 18 weeks that concluded in certifications for electrical specialists in various fields . Meanwhile, 1 400 employees received high-voltage awareness training and 60 employees undertook courses over 24 months to become technical electric specialists.

The programme is being implemented in close cooperation with the Volkswagen Training Institute. In order to prepare for the programme, training staff expanded their capabilities, especially with respect to high-voltage technology. And the company made large investments into training technologies and virtual reality simulations, in cooperation with around 90 training partners, including companies such as Siemens and Kuka as well as renowned higher education institutions. Around 1 000 internal and 1 600 external trainer days were planned.

In total, Volkswagen invested EUR 1.2 billion to repurpose the Zwickau facility as an e-mobility plant. To date, Volkswagen has converted its Zwickau and Emden plants for the production of electric vehicles, with the new Trinity plant located near its massive Wolfsburg facility planned next. Retraining workers for the shift to emobility is one of the central elements of these transformation plans, which the company developed in collaboration with the Works Council. 

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