The electric vehicle shift is occurring rapidly, and meeting demand requires increased equipment manufacturing and installation capabilities. But semiconductors and batteries aren’t the only elements with questionable supply to meet future demand: Labor is lagging, too.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 730,000 electrician jobs existed in the U.S. in 2020, and that is projected to grow 9% by 2030. The co-founders at Detroit-based EV charging infrastructure startup Vehya realized electrician supply could become even tighter as the push for electrification intensifies. And without more workers, the EV evolution could stall. Therefore, they incorporated a workforce training program into their charging business to boost the supply of electricians.
“Our goal is to ensure that EV adoption is easy and equitable,” said William McCoy, CEO and co-founder of Vehya. “A part of that is making sure that we have a workforce that can make that happen.”
The goal is to create more than 100,000 new electrical professionals by 2030 through Vehya’s workforce development initiative. The founders especially want to harness Midwestern employees at risk of migrating to other parts of the country and leaving the region with “brain drain.”
“We’re going to try to be that connecting piece between the two coasts and push EV adoption in the Midwest,” McCoy said.
Solutions for now and the future
Husband-and-wife team McCoy and Marissa Sens combined their passion for cars, specifically EVs, and launched Vehya last year. They offer commercial, residential, and governmental charging solutions and want the options to be simple and cost-effective.
The seed-stage business is actively looking for investors and has been chosen to participate in an accelerator. They’re seeking partners — perhaps utilities, auto manufacturers, or real estate developers — who understand the value in Vehya’s work and its potential to boost EV adoption.
“Our product helps to make sure that you all have a reliable electrician who knows how to install the equipment but also somebody who can service it in the future,” McCoy said.
Vehya partners with affiliate programs to help young people become apprentices and then grow into the workforce’s next generation. They also engage with older workers who might be interested in switching careers.
Opportunities for all
Equity and empowering people who might not otherwise have such opportunities is a key part of Vehya’s workforce development mission.
“We try to introduce people to this industry — which is very lucrative — and give them an opportunity to have a future where they can take care of their family,” McCoy said.
Those who live in rural areas can be considered underprivileged as well, he said. Access to the Midwest’s plentiful rural communities is another reason being based in Detroit is beneficial and can have a big impact.
Establishing a foothold as a tech startup is more challenging in the Midwest than in coastal tech hubs because local investors and partners tend to be more risk-averse, McCoy noted. But he points out that Motor City is an excellent location with ample support for transportation startups.
“I want to make it happen here in the Midwest,” McCoy said.