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What do graduates want from autonomous and electric vehicle careers?

These days, graduates with the skills required to develop autonomous and electric vehicle technologies are in high demand. And when it comes to what they’re looking for in their careers developing the next generation of transportation, topping the list are ‘trustworthy’ employers who offer career advancement opportunities.

That’s the finding of a recent study by collegiate engineering competition EcoCAR, which surveyed university students across the US and Canada to gain an inside look at what these sought-after graduates want from their future careers and employers.

“Automotive and technology companies are looking for the next echelon of talent and the challenges they face in hiring and retaining engineers has become a major topic of discussion,” said Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The EcoCAR findings provide companies with an understanding of what these students want from their employers and careers. Those who take notice will surely gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent.”


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The survey’s objective was threefold: to learn what candidates are looking for in an employer; to find where candidates are looking for job opportunities; and to discover who influences candidates in their employment decisions.

When considering an employer, nearly all those questioned said that an employer offering career advancement opportunities (98%), having a wage or salary that is competitive (97%) and offering learning and development opportunities (96%) are important attributes.

For a company to stand out, students are looking for an employer that is trustworthy (99%), has a strong, credible reputation (97%) and is known for being innovative (96%).

Location is also important for graduates, with companies based in desirable cities or regions, and offering proximity to affordable, safe housing scoring highly. According to those polled, it’s important that the company’s location is safe (61%), that it’s close to where the student plans to live and offers a short commute (59%), and that it’s in an interesting area (56%).

Autonomous and electric vehicle job opportunities key to securing top talent

The survey found that, when it comes to the automotive industry, students are particularly interested in pursuing careers that focus on the autonomous capabilities and electrification of vehicles. As they advance in their chosen profession, students hope to be able to advance vehicles’ autonomous capabilities and to help them rely more on electricity for propulsion.

Nearly four in 10 students would be interested in working for any of the three industry business types – manufacturer, start-up and supplier – while just over a quarter (28%) say they only want to work for an automotive manufacturer. As a result, the majority of students would consider a job at a supplier or start-up.

“With the increase in technology content in vehicles, we’re seeing students focus on how they can contribute to the development of that technology, regardless if that’s with a manufacturer or supplier or a non-traditional player in the mobility market,” said Kristen Wahl, director of the EcoCAR programme.

“The insights revealed from this study are beneficial for recruiters because, by surveying EcoCAR students, we’re going straight to the source of the best and brightest STEM talent entering the workforce.”

Searching for autonomous and electric vehicle jobs

When it comes to finding the right job, the study found that job searches begin online, but connections are made in person. As they research potential employers, four-fifths of those questioned (83%) said that they examine company websites, with 58% studying LinkedIn and 56% exploring Glassdoor. The poll found that nearly two-thirds of respondents also use on-campus career fairs to search for job openings.

Recruits also follow companies on social media and say they are most likely to engage with these companies’ articles and videos, ahead of infographics and blog posts. They also consult friends and family about their job hunt (70%), along with mentors (54%) and classmates (50%).


Check out the latest autonomous vehicle industry jobs here.