EV battery production will need a large and specialized workforce

Woman and man check operations of factory at laptop with robotic arm

The production of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) will drive job growth in a broad range of occupations, with many of the roles requiring specific skills or specialized education and training, according to a new report from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

The U.S. economy is in the early stages of a once-in-a-lifetime transition away from internal combustion engines to fully electric vehicles (EVs), with EV sales potentially reaching 40 percent of total passenger car sales by 2030, according to S&P Global Mobility. The new report projects the numbers and types of workers who will be needed in one key area of EV production: lithium-ion batteries.

“The timing of the shift to EVs is difficult to predict with certainty, but the transition is coming,” said Upjohn Institute President Mike Horrigan, one of the authors of this study. “It’s important that we have the data that will allow the auto industry, economic development agencies, and educators to plan for the workforce we will need to get the job done.”

What Kind of Workers?

The greatest share of battery related employment growth will be in occupations that require training provided by associate and technical degree programs offered by community colleges, as well as through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. These include the top three occupations that account for 32 percent of projected total employment growth: assemblers and fabricators, other production occupations, and metal and plastics workers.

In addition, there are many new jobs that generally require a bachelor’s degree or higher, including three that account for 16 percent of projected total employment growth: engineers, business operations specialists, and operations specialty managers.

The report advises that “the transition from internal combustion engines to EVs will require substantial training or retraining of workers to ensure that the United States has a chance of sustaining its share of the global automotive industry.”

How Many Workers?

The report estimates that by 2030, as many as 310,000 workers will be needed across the lithium-ion battery supply chain, including jobs tied to inputs, production, and distribution. In Michigan, the need will top 30,000 workers. The research notes that these are high-end estimates based on a projected increase in gigawatt production capacity of batteries from the current 200 GWh in 2023 to a projected 1000 GWh in 2030. The report cautions that several factors could affect the time to achieve this increase, including consumer acceptance of EV driving ranges and the availability of fast-charging stations. These considerations could lengthen the transition to EVs if automakers decide to produce more hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the short-to-medium term.

“Our estimate (of jobs) is upper bound, subject to achieving 1000 GWh production of lithium-ion batteries,” explained the authors, “but the real value (of this report) is how our database allows us to identify the current and likely future occupations that will be in greatest demand and their associated workforce development needs as we move inevitably toward an EV-based transportation economy.”


The report uses 2023 data from the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries that provides employment data across the EV battery supply chain, also including estimates of battery production in gigawatt-hours (GWh). This data base is combined with Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data on occupational employment, current and projected, for the U.S. and Michigan. Using this data, the Upjohn researchers created a detailed inventory of the occupations that are currently used in the supply chain for batteries. They then used consensus estimates of likely gigawatt production by 2030 to generate detailed estimates of employment, both in total and by occupation, along with the kinds of training that will be required to produce lithium-ion batteries that are critical to EVs.