WGTC Hosts TCSG, Industry Partners for Electric Vehicle Listening Session
October 16, 2023
LAGRANGE, GA – The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) recently held an electric vehicle listening session at West Georgia Technical College’s (WGTC) Callaway Conference Center in LaGrange. Leaders from Georgia’s emerging electrification industry along with technical college administrators and faculty attended the session to discuss the future of electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing and the growing demand for a highly skilled workforce.
Dr. Ray Perren, Deputy Commissioner for Technical Education at TCSG, stated that this was the third of four regional listening sessions across Georgia, emphasizing TCSG’s commitment to building a well-educated, globally competitive workforce through technical education.
“We are here to really listen to our business partners regarding the future of e-vehicle,” Perren said. “We’ve got a room full of technical college employees here to listen and ensure we provide the workforce that our EV partners need so Georgia can continue to be the best place to do business.”
Industry representatives from Kia Georgia, FREYR Battery, Hyundai-Transys, and Georgia Power spoke at the event.
Latesha Bailey, Senior Manager of Kia Georgia, discussed how the labor market in Georgia presents challenges in attracting and retaining talent and said upskilling the current workforce is front and center of their operation.
“The mobility industry has an additional challenge as it converts and/or diversifies the skill sets of the existing workforce to meet the needs of EV production,” Bailey said. “Today’s vehicle technology is advancing quickly. Upskilling the current workforce in preparation for the future is important and significant to the success of EV technology.”
What is needed for the existing and new workforce? Bailey said ensuring that they are continually educated on the fast-paced, changing technology.
“We’ve talked about developing a certification course in the areas of EV structure – components, EV manufacturing processes, high voltage safety, charge and repair, problem-solving, and troubleshooting,” Bailey said. “Creating a badge and database for employers of these potential candidates would assist us in building this EV workforce pipeline.”
As the Kia Georgia team prepares to launch their plant’s first electric vehicle, Bailey emphasized the importance of organizations like TCSG and WGTC who are on the front lines of the quest to build Georgia’s workforce of tomorrow.
“That’s where the technicians and skilled professionals will come from that will lead our state’s auto industry into the era of EVs and develop this mobility solution in the future,” Bailey said.
Jason Peace, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Supply Chain for FREYER Battery explained that FREYER is not so much EV-focused but focused more on electrification of the grid and the broader electrification of the world. When discussing electrifying the U.S., Peace said they are directly competing with China.
“China has 95% of the battery production in the world and 95% production of the raw materials required to go into the batteries,” Peace said. “They got a 10-15-year head start on us, and for us to catch up, we need you, and we need the talent coming out of the high school system that is going to support the plants of the future.”
FREYR Battery, a developer of clean, next-generation battery cell production capacity, recently announced the selection and purchase of a site in Coweta County for its planned Giga America battery plant.
Peace challenged the TCSG administrators and faculty in attendance to find a way to help educate high school students on what the possibilities are.
“When they think about technical school they think welding or CDL, which are all great, but painting this picture of where the world is headed and what they can be a part of is very impactful,” Peace said. “Being a part of something that the world is going to look like in the future…this doesn’t come very often. This is the rare opportunity for that. We just need help finding a way to get in front of high schoolers to share that story and that passion.”
West Georgia Technical College, with campuses in Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, and Troup counties and class sites in Heard and Meriwether counties, offers more than 120 associate degree, diploma, and technical certificate programs of study. A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia, West Georgia Tech is one of the largest of the state’s 22 technical colleges. For more information, please visit www.westgatech.edu.