A first-of-its kind degree program will soon prepare professional workers for jobs in the fledgling mobility industry.
The Michigan Mobility Institute, a new organization formed this year to enhance Michigan's work force talent, is partnering with Wayne State University in Detroit to develop a curriculum that will allow students to earn a master's degree in mobility.
Tentatively, Wayne State's College of Engineering is scheduled to begin enrolling students in 2021 for the degree program. But executives from the Michigan Mobility Institute said there's hope of accelerating those plans. The degree is believed to be the first of its kind across the country.
"The idea really manifests from the conversations we've had with the industry and their focus on needing people with interdisciplinary skills," said Jessica Robinson, executive director of the institute and a former Ford executive. "And they need to fill those jobs now."
Infusing artificial intelligence, robotics and cyber-security skills into a work force widely known for its manufacturing and engineering expertise will help Michigan retain future-minded auto industry jobs, and attract new ones, Robinson said.
Even as automakers slash thousands of jobs, a Boston Consulting Group study found demand for engineering graduates with skills needed for mobility-oriented careers outstrips supply by a 6-to-1 margin. The report said automated driving, connectivity and electrification will help create more than 100,000 industry jobs over the next decade.
"Anywhere you go, people know we are excellent in designing and manufacturing cars," Robinson said, speaking on the Shift podcast last month. "But what we're seeing is the nature of jobs is changing, and the talent that drives those jobs is also changing."
Collaboration with other schools remains a possibility for the Michigan Mobility Institute. The organization also plans to create programs that address industry needs for workers in the skilled trades.