The car of the future will depend highly on sophisticated IT systems.
The car of the future will depend highly on sophisticated IT systems.
Image: Supplied

In the dynamic automotive world there is much change taking place, as motor manufacturers begin working together in an umbrella of competencies known as CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric).

These new technologies will also create new types of careers. Speaking to Mark Dommise, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers' Association (Nada), and Brandon Cohen, Chief Specialist: Governance and Compliance Nada, it’s clear that CASE has begun changing the sector skills that will be required going forward.

We’ve narrowed down the trends and what is clear is that we needn’t fear that robots will accelerate job losses. Rather we need to invest in focused sets of competencies. What is also clear is that some old skills will still be needed but, ultimately, information technology will dominate.

Connectedness

The vision is for vehicle-to-vehicle communication in sharing data about road conditions, incidents, traffic patterns and much more to enhance safety and convenience for users. Information communication technology (ICT) practitioners are going to become gold as companies seek people with the skills to not only innovate the technology but also to maintain existing infrastructure.

Special skills are also required in the extended fields of data transmission including geo-fencing, the skill of creating virtual geographic boundaries. Electrics and electronics will also be huge as sensors and cameras will be used to pick up other vehicles, obstacles and road information. The industry will need people with these skills.  

Autonomous

Autonomous driving is when the duty of driving (throttle, brake and steering) is relinquished by a driver to a vehicle in varied levels. Because the technology mixes different components, the skills required to manage this discipline range from IT (software), digital (chips, drive-by-wire) and mechanical (steering and braking components).

Shared Services

We will increasingly share cars in future, by way of booking a seat in a passenger pod using an app, paying and waiting for the car to arrive on our doorstep or at a predetermined spot in the city. As such, skills needed for this range from customer experience professionals, IT (app designers and data transmission technicians.)

Electric

Electric cars will become an ever greater part of tomorrow’s reality which opens up careers in battery manufacturing would become more common.

As millions of electric cars are expected to take to our cities, so too will charging stations. This huge task will need electricians to set up and continually manage the infrastructure.

Retail

In the interim, the automotive landscape vehicle is currently going through a metamorphosis of sorts. Audi SA has begun rolling out VR (Virtual Reality) across its dealer network as a sales tool. Potential owners can now spec and experience their cars long before they take delivery in the comfort of a lounge.

This means IT specialists in graphics tech will become a norm at dealers as the technology spreads to other car brands.

Marketers who can effectively communicate using the short bursts of wording on various digital platforms (social) are starting to be in demand, and because SA is quite diverse in language, culture and living standards, people who are savvy in negotiating these variances are proving a must-have in the competitive arena of vehicle sales. 

Nada has also identified a desperate need for well versed consultants in new types of financing and insurance systems that have begun evolving with current ownership trends.       

Data Analysts

These individuals use the power of digital connectedness to provide much needed data analytics to the retail space in terms of lifestyle trends, needs and attractions. They offer the marking team with insights of what to do and how to capture the attentions of potential buyers.

Data analysts also track down and map out existing clientele lifestyle patterns, and anticipate their needs such as when vehicle service is due, to enhance ownership experiences.

Sales

While the vehicle sales model is rapidly shifting towards digital engagement where potential clients can research, order and finance their car from the comfort of their home, new age sales staff need to be digitally and social media savvy.

Sales people with rounded skills in product knowledge, finance and insurance who are able to absorb this high pressure, commission-fuelled division and maintain top customer satisfaction are in great demand. According Guy Kilfoil, dealer principal of Bedfordview BMW, the earning potential for a successful salesperson is possibly north of R60,000 a month in the premium space.

Service Advisors

The service advisor of today is a more customer-centric, organised person with finesse in communications with clients. They need to absorb and impart information to technicians, all in the name of smoothing out processes, time management and professionalism. They are among the hardest finds though. They should earn in the region of R40,000 a month

Technicians 

It’s not quite yet over for the so-called grease jockeys as the internal combustion engine will still be around for some time.

There’s a great demand for mechanics and technicians. According to Kilfoil, service centres can be running as low as 20% below capacity as old hands who aren’t clued up and not upskilled for new machinery are leaving in droves to start their own business maintaining old, less complicated cars. At the same time there are not enough younger coming into the fold.

Suitably qualified and effective technicians can earn from R40,000 upwards.

Motor dealers run graduate training programs for many of these career paths.