20 June 2017
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is drawing up plans to hire an extra 5,000 engineers and technical staff in the next 12 months. That’s a major vote of confidence in the UK for developing and designing cars. The announcement could come as early as this week.
It's not clear where the workers will be based, but the recruitment drive could see the UK's biggest car maker boost its UK workforce to as many as 42,000 workers.
Last year Jaguar unveiled its first electric car, the i-Pace. The car is already in production by the contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Austria and should hit dealers later this year, and give Tesla a run for its money. JLR hopes to design and make electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK in the future.
The firm is also competing in the Formula-E electric racing series (an electric version of F1) which is a test bed for new technologies.
The European car market is rapidly turning away from diesels in the wake of the Volkswagen crisis, with consumers spooked by fears over tighter regulations, restrictions on diesels in cities, and uncertainty over residual values of cars. The diesel market could collapse to as little as 15% of car sales in Europe by 2025, from near 50% not long ago.
Car firms like JLR are accelerating a shift into EVs and hybrids. JLR in particular has been far too slow to get into the burgeoning EV market and is now playing catch up with the likes of Tesla and BMW.
Given such shifts, and the move into autonomous and connected cars, electronics and software are increasingly key for new cars. Indeed, over half the value of a modern premium car is already in the electronics that go inside it. JLR is increasingly a tech firm that does cars.
JLR hops to recruit 1000 new software and electronic engineers. To find the new staff it needs, JLR is using an innovative recruitment process featuring the alternate reality band Gorillaz.
Potential applicants will be able to download the Gorillaz app and try to crack a code-breaking challenge. Those successful will be fast-tracked through the JLR recruitment process without the need for a CV. In so doing, JLR aims to pay more attention to skills rather than qualifications, and also attract more women.
The Telegraph quotes Alex Heslop at JLR as saying that "as the automotive industry transforms over the next decade we will have to attract the best talent and that requires a radical rethink of how we recruit… This is a way to recruit a diverse pool of talent in software and cyber systems, app development and graphics performance."
It's not clear where the 5000 new staff will be located, but many of the 1000 new software and electronic engineers are likely to be based in the Midlands given it is the centre of JLR's R&D activities with bases at Gaydon and Whitley and close links with local universities and high-tech suppliers.
The firm aims to rapidly expand production over the next few years from around 550,000 cars a year to over 1 million. The new software and electronic engineers are needed to develop the new cars that will power this growth.
Recruiting so many staff is a huge vote of confidence in the UK as a place to develop cars. JLR has to recruit the best talent no matter wherever it is - the company already has operation in Silicon Valley - and it is ready to bring the people they need here.
I expect that includes skilled engineers from the EU too - of course membership of the EU makes it easier to hire skilled staff. That's something that has to be easy as possible in the future too, a point that the government needs to note as Brexit talks start this week.
This blog was written by Aston Business School professor David Bailey and originally appeared in the Birmingham Post.
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