The scientists examined the effects of the transformation on employment at Volkswagen. The study was commissioned by Volkswagen Group’s independent Sustainability Council. Ex-DGB German Trade Union Confederation head Michael Sommer (advisory board member and patron of the study): “Our results show: The negative impact on employment will not be as dramatic as feared. We can control this.” Earlier studies predicted employment losses of between 35 and 62 percent across the German automotive industry by 2030 as a result of the switch to electromobility.
Within the time horizon up to 2030, the study considers both the potential employment losses due to electromobility in the area of vehicle production and in the area of component production. As a result, the employment losses due to electromobility in vehicle production will be much lower. The area of component production will be affected more severely, as the amount of work required for the electric powertrain will fall here in contrast to the conventional powertrain. Strategic countermeasures were therefore taken at an early stage in the company to cushion the employment effects resulting from electromobility, for example by opening up new areas of expertise such as battery cell development and production.
As far as the second driver, digitalization, is concerned, job growth can even be expected initially in the medium term, as implementation is very complex and requires corresponding resources.
At Volkswagen, the “Group HR Strategy and Innovation” team led by Thymian Bussemer and project manager Ann-Kathrin Dohme closely supported the study over 18 months. Bussemer: “This study is specifically tailored to Volkswagen and thus offers enormous value for the company. Previous global studies have predicted a veritable employment tsunami due to e-mobility and digitalization. The study using Volkswagen as a specific example has shown: The reality is more complex. In the coming years, we will experience a juxtaposition of upskilling and downskilling, of reskilling and new skills being added. The study helps us to shape this upcoming transformation in a proactive and employee-oriented way.”
First empirical study on the topic
For almost a year, the Fraunhofer researchers conducted 60 expert interviews with representatives of all business units at Volkswagen and analyzed more than 30 employee groups. Institute Director Prof. Wilhelm Bauer: “For us as a research institution, such intensive and trusting collaborations, as in the project with Volkswagen, is particularly valuable. It provides impetus to shape the transformation positively and should encourage all players in the automotive industry ecosystem to approach change processes openly and cooperatively.”
Around five percent of all jobs in Germany are directly or indirectly related to the automotive industry. Until now, studies on the future of these jobs have been based on statistical data, global figures and model calculations from the industry as a whole, which have led to high forecasts for job losses. Project leader Dr. Florian Herrmann, Institute Director at Fraunhofer IAO, says: “The evaluation of Volkswagen’s company-specific data shows that there is no standard trend in employment development for the next ten years. Depending on the area, new jobs may be created, eliminated or the content may change significantly.”
Executive summary and key findings
Beschäftigung 2030 Auswirkungen von Elektromobilität und Digitalisierung auf die Qualität und Quantität der Beschäftigung bei Volkswagen
To the complete study (Available in German only)