Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article appeared on Triangle Business Journal.
All bets are on an electrified future.
From the largest U.S. auto manufacturers to local transit systems like GoRaleigh, the transition to electric transportation is picking up speed as more than $12 billion in funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law reaches American communities.
This trend is already having a positive impact on the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. Not only are electric buses hitting our streets, but the same factors that have fostered this region, such as proximity to three Tier-1 research universities and an abundance of advanced manufacturing sites, are the same factors now providing a foundation for an electrified Triangle.
As director of operations for Siemens Smart Infrastructure, I’ve gotten to see this transformation first-hand. We have an electric vehicle (EV) charging manufacturing facility in Wendell, just east of Raleigh, and are proud to be a big part of the region’s economic engine. And what I’m most excited about is how electrification is opening new doors for people in our community to contribute to this historic moment for our nation’s infrastructure.
Electrification brings workforce development
Jobs in EVs and EV infrastructure manufacturing are not only highly skilled, but also highly rewarding.
To help prepare people for these roles, several colleges and universities are getting involved, including Wake Technical Community College, which launched a new apprenticeship program with us in Wendell. Starting in the 11th grade, program participants attend classes part-time and receive hands-on manufacturing experience, all while earning full-time compensation benefits. In the end, apprentices obtain their associate’s degree and a Journeyman-Apprenticeship Certificate, and have an established career with a major company in the Triangle.
N.C. State University has also created an internship program with companies in the area to offer students hands-on career experience and technical training.
Electric-vehicle development adds to a growing market
What’s more, EV workers will be part of an incredibly fast-growing sector of the market. The share of new passenger EVs is predicted to grow from 4 percent to 45 percent by 2035. And as domestic production becomes even more of a priority, manufacturing facilities here in North Carolina will be at the center of meeting this demand.
Electric vehicle (EV) workers will be part of an incredibly fast-growing sector of the market. It has been predicted that the share of new passenger EVs will grow from four percent to 45 percent by 2035.
Several months ago, Toyota announced plans to build a $1.29 billion electric vehicle production facility at the Greensboro-Randolph megasite. This, paired with the VinFast announcement, and Arrival EV manufacturers in the state, puts central North Carolina at the forefront of the EV revolution.
We’re already feeling the impact at our Wendell facility, which manufactures large-vehicle charging products for buses and trucks. Not only have we experienced an uptick in demand, but we have also added 100 new jobs at the facility in just the past two years. We expect to add 50 more over the next year to support the electrification of the U.S. transit market.
This is an exciting time for the Triangle region, North Carolina, and America. Together, we’re creating good-paying jobs, a skilled workforce, and a clean-energy future for the nation right in our own backyard.
Published: April 21, 2022