TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Conventional wisdom says General Motors, Ford and other auto manufacturers are in danger of losing top engineering talent to disrupters such as Google, Uber or Tesla.
But don't count out Detroit yet.
EcoCAR, an annual competition for college students, commissioned a study of its most recent participants and found traditional automakers with established reputations still appeal to job seekers.
The survey polled about 450 students and found 38 percent were interested in any auto company offering a job, while 28 percent wanted to work specifically for a carmaker. It found that 13 percent wanted a startup, while just 3 percent identified suppliers. That indicates an increasing affinity for nonautomakers, but other aspects of the survey found that the experience and longevity of carmakers matters.
Among values would-be workers said they want in a future employer, trustworthiness topped the list (99 percent), followed by a strong, credible reputation (97 percent) and a history of innovation (96 percent). That's hard to come by if your company's younger than the iPhone.
The outlook for recruiting young workers is part of the conversation this week at the seminars.
Surprisingly, according to EcoCAR, traditional approaches to finding talent also resonate. The survey found most students (83 percent) still begin their job searches on company websites, while 65 percent said they still rely on campus job fairs.
But traditional auto companies face challenges. Among students polled, 51 percent said they want to work on autonomous vehicle technology, 47 percent want to work on vehicle electrification, while only 42 percent said they wanted to work on conventional vehicle development.
The war for talent is getting more heated, and the results should serve as a plan of attack for anyone looking to bolster their ranks.
Yes, the industry is changing, and automakers have to adapt. But it's too early to count out any company, or write off old-world metal benders as obsolete and undesirable.