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Automotive industry jobs continue to change as carmarkers focus on technology

The traditional carmaker as a manufacturing giant may soon be a thing of the past. With the advancement of automotive technology, car companies are starting to look a lot more like tech startups.

That’s the impression given by a list of the auto industry jobs of the future released by General Motors GM -1.15% this month, a roster stacked with roles that may seem more likely to be found at a search engine or app designer than a Big Three automaker.

According to Ken Kelzer, GM’s Global VP of Vehicle Components and Subsystems, many of the auto industry jobs for which demand will increase over the next several years will be focused on integrating consumer electronics–tablets, touchscreens, mobile technology–into vehicles.

“What we have to do is go from consumer electrics into vehicle electronics,” said Kelzer. “If you think about a TV or a radio at home, it sits on a countertop. You put that into a vehicle, you have to transform it into a vehicle environment. Many times that means it’s got to hang out at minus-30 on our dash in the hills of Arizona, or out in the parking lot at minus-20. You have to transform the electronics into what a vehicle can handle.”

As a result, hiring is beginning to favor the professionals with skills in electrical, versus mechanical, engineering.

“If you look at our hiring statistics,” said Kelzer, “15 years ago it was by far mostly mechanical engineers, now you’re seeing that change significantly to the electrical side.”

It’s no surprise that it remains a great employment climate in which to be an engineer.

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