By Sanjay Srivastava
With the growth in the electric vehicle sector, human capital too is a resource that is witnessing a surge in demand.
As the world’s EV man, Elon Musk, famously said, “I encourage all manufacturers to offer more electric automobiles; it’s a wonderful thing. This is what will enable mankind to attain a sustainable transportation future.” Electric vehicles are being hailed as the new saviour to lower global carbon emissions and as a messiah to be employed in combating climate change.
According to the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook study, global sales of electric vehicles will increase exponentially in 2022. With 2 million vehicles delivered in the first quarter, which is 75 per cent more compared to the same period in 2021, the trend reflects the future of electric vehicles globally. This brings us to the question that has been brewing in most boardrooms of EV aggregate manufacturers: “How can we establish a more streamlined EV business to meet the market potential and demand, with limited human capital possessing adequate expertise and experience in the EV sector?”
The solution is simple: to be relevant in the future as an EV business, the focus should be on providing a solid technical curriculum by educational institutions that put both knowledge and research & development on the table. Governmental organizations and the automotive industry should support such initiatives. Educational institutions must provide a variety of technical programs in areas of the electric vehicle and its ecosystem, also called EV aggregates.
Efforts of the Indian Government to promote the EV sector
The Indian government has proactively understood the importance of the EV industry as a prominent sector and has been making significant investments and reforms for the same. One such encouraging reform is the FAME-2 policy, which involves the Department of Heavy Industries creating EV demand by subsidizing the cost of owning an electric vehicle and/or setting up EV charging stations.
To substantiate, the Indian government has approved an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores for Phase II of the FAME Scheme for three years, commencing from the 1st of April 2019. This scheme has been extended by another two years until 31st March 2024. Out of total budgetary support, around 86 per cent of funds have been allocated to create a demand for EVs in the country and 1000 crore towards building charging infrastructures.
Under the ‘Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme’ and the ‘National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage’ for achieving a manufacturing capacity of fifty (50) Giga Watt Hours (GWh) and enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities, the Indian government has announced a budgetary outlay of 18,100 crores.
Besides these significant investments amounting to nearly 28,000 crore rupees; at the COP 26 Summit in Glasgow, NITI Aayog launched the e-Amrit platform, which will serve as a one-stop location for all documentation-related activities on electric vehicles. It will address critical issues related to the nationwide adoption of an EV-based ecosystem, such as charging stations and financing options. The software is expected to assist EV startups as well as automotive conglomerates in producing more EVs than traditional fossil-fueled automobiles.
The potential of electric vehicles and the job opportunities they could help create
As we tread along on a unified front to meet the AtmaNirbhar Bharat mission, which is beneficial in the long run for domestic production of EV and EV infrastructure, we find large OEMs making an initiative to venture into the EV components market to reduce reliance on imports and meet the 50% localization criteria of accessing government subsidies. To meet the 475,000 crore demand by 2025, as published in an article in the famous periodical, “The Hindu”, there is an increasing demand to manufacture and produce EVs to meet the market potential. This demand will act as a catalyst for generating massive employment opportunities in the EV sector.
Further, companies in the EV sector would focus more on hiring technical and specialized human resources to cater to the organic demand being generated. As per the estimates given by the “Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship”, by 2030, one crore linear jobs will be created as a result of the EV market boom, and this boom will give rise to approximately five crore indirect jobs in the EV sector.
Creating a specialized workforce to assist the EV ecosystem flourish
To attain specialisation in the EV sector that offers many opportunities, a wholesome technical education system is required to propel the large EV industry. Though India is way ahead in technical education, wherein Indian colleges and universities already offer courses in areas of automobile engineering, we need to propagate the need for specialization in the diversified specializations of EV to become resource relevant in the EV automobile space.
Institutions have made significant progress toward this goal. An example is a collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and Technology, MRIIRS and Electric One Mobility Private Limited to launch and develop the Electric Vehicle Center of Excellence (COE)-Skill Next for Electric Vehicle Technology. This Center seeks to teach, inspire, and uplift students to prepare them to be relevant in an ever-changing technological era. Prashant Bhalla – President, MREI, together with Amit Das- Founder & CEO, Electric One Mobility Pvt. Limited. inaugurated the Centre of Excellence for Electric Vehicle Technology and signed the Memorandum of Understanding on June 22, 2022. Representation from the industry for this launch also included DheerajTripathi – Co-Founder & COO of Electric One Mobility Pvt. Limited and Satyendra Pal – Founder & Managing Director, Jeetsons Electric Vehicles Pvt Limited;
The move comes in the wake of the vital need to hone the skills of students and adapt to the EV Revolution that is unfolding rapidly. Incepted with a single-minded objective, the centres aimed to educate, engage and elevate students to be future-ready in a simulated EV environment. The Certification and Curriculum-based Experiential Program at the Centre will cater to the much-needed skills amongst students for the ever-growing futuristic segment of electric vehicles. It will provide tremendous professional and academic opportunities in the coming years. Most importantly, this Program will strengthen India’s EV Vision.
Prashant Bhalla, President of MREI, in his address, stated that “in our existence of 25 years, Manav Rachna has always taken the lead in adopting new technologies, and we are now getting into a new dimension with the launch of the aforementioned Centre of Excellence. The EV sector has received tremendous response and support from users and governments around the world. With our PM’s vision, EV is going to open new career opportunities in the country. With industry players adopting EV technology, as academic institutions, we are truly focused on delivering the right skill-set to our students. With this venture, we definitely hope for greater avenues.”
Elaborating further on this collaboration, Amit Das, Founder & CEO, Electric One Mobility Pvt. Ltd stated, “We are delighted to collaborate and set up India’s first-ever COE at Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies. With EV enhancing careers & tech-innovation capabilities of India’s talent for a better future is Electric One’s mission as the EV industry’s pioneering cheerleader. Students represent the future of society, and nurturing bright technical minds with the latest EV technologies & growth opportunities in an experiential manner is indeed the need of the hour today.”
Electric One’s “Skill Next” is strategically backed by 20 plus Indian OEMs and supported by German Research Institutes and Innovation Centers. Benefiting from its first-mover advantage, this is a first-of-its-kind centre in the Indian education ecosystem and will immensely foster the domain’s deeper understanding between the Industry and Academia. The Centre of Excellence will focus predominantly on two areas of Training and Research. Here, two parallel programmes will be offered; namely, Skill Next Programme, to provide the EV sector with skilled and trained manpower and a Specialized programme on EV for B.Tech undergraduates. Later, Manav Rachna is planning to come up with short-term Training programmes for Industry Professionals, Consultancy services for EV Industry and Research projects supported by govt schemes
With information and awareness of the impact of the environment on life, graduating students are cognizant of the fast deteriorating fossil fuels, the impact of emissions on climate change, the need to transition to green transportation urgently, and the overall impact of the deteriorating environment on the global economy. To make a shift towards saving our planet, we need this new generation to opt for gaining specialization in the EV space with short-term and long-term EV technical courses.
We need to harness their skills by offering a relevant technical curriculum as well as bringing in experiential learning in technical education for them. This is possible when there is a perfect alignment between the industry and academia- where students gain knowledge from the vast experience of industry specialists and the scholarly wisdom of their mentors; thus empowering them to innovate, live, and breathe EVs
Are we ready for the change?
We have effectively generated some of the most brilliant minds in the country, and our strength lies in the youth of our 1.3 billion population. The idea of EV is not new or strange to Indians when it comes to innovation. It started way back with our domestic establishment Reva in June 2001, even before the American automotive giant Tesla thought about it.
Currently, institutions must help students realize how vital their contribution will be to the future of EVs in India. These young aspirants represent society’s future, and fostering brilliant technical minds with the newest EV breakthroughs and growth opportunities in an immersive way is indeed a severe exigency.
To attain this aim, all institutions must collaborate to assist India’s EV ecosystem in thriving. Promoting sustainability should be the number one priority for Indian educational institutions that offer specialized technical curricula. In this journey, the automotive industry, OEMs, component manufacturers and EV ecosystem creators need to collaborate with educational institutions to build a future-ready force in the electric vehicle sector for India and the world.
[Sanjay Srivastava is Vice Chancellor, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies (MRIIRS).]
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