Home » America Doesn’t Have Enough Electricians For An EV Future: Report

America Doesn’t Have Enough Electricians For An EV Future: Report

Broken Charger Tmd
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In “The Graduate,” a family friend of Dustin Hoffman’s loafing, libidinous Ben Braddock informs him that the future is “Plastics.” Today, it might be fair to say that the future is “Electrons.” Specifically, it seems the world is going to need more electricians to help guide those electrons if we’re ever going to have a charging network robust enough to support all of these electric cars.

America may not suddenly be on the verge of swapping all of its cars for EVs, but more EVs are coming and it already feels, anecdotally, like there isn’t enough infrastructure for the ones we have now. Automakers suddenly bolting to Tesla’s NACS standard in the United States is proof of this, but a new report shows statistically that it’s as bad as people guessed.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Also on tap for today’s Morning Dump: Gigacasting is the word of the year in the automotive sector and two big players are once again looking at Tesla and thinking: If you can’t beat’em, copy’em. Today’s news dump will then detour into a bit of a union update before landing on a little bit of history.

Broken EV Chargers Need Electricians We Don’t Have

Tesla Supercharger Network

I was en route to Chicago in an electric car when I bumped into a technician for a large charging network (I won’t say which because I did not identify myself as a reporter). I’m glad he was there because, in fact, the first charger I attempted to use was out of service. Was he there to fix it?

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Nope! He was en route to a charger in another state and was just stopping to charge himself. I inquired as to why the stations I visit always seem to be broken and he explained that there weren’t enough technicians to work on them. In fact, he and fewer than a dozen technicians were responsible for a huge area that covered around 50,000 square miles. Was the pay bad? Nope. Pay and benefits were great but, as he explained, these are extremely high-voltage systems and not just anyone can work on them.

This was confirmed by a report today in Automotive News about the shortage of electricians:

Nearly 4,000 public charging stations with more than 7,000 ports were out of service as of early October, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s an outage rate of more than 6 percent.

The DOE estimate may be modest. Here Technologies, which pulls real-time data from connected chargers, says 4,673 chargers were out of order, but it expects many more “unconnected” charge points were inoperable.

Thousands of unusable chargers could hinder EV adoption as frustrated drivers complain about searching for working ports to keep their cars running. One in five charging attempts failed in the first half of the year, according to research firm J.D. Power.

Imagine if one-in-every-five trips to the gas station you couldn’t get a pump to work and the other pumps were full of cars that might be sitting there for another 20-30 minutes. It’s frustrating and it happens all the time.

What’s the cause? Again, from the report:

The U.S. will need at least 142,000 more certified electricians by 2030 to support the country’s electrification push, which includes EV charging, solar panels, battery storage, smart panels and more, according to Qmerit, a company that provides installation services for EV charging and other electrification technologies for homes and businesses.

“Public charging is competing for a scarcity of labor with these other demands,” said Eric Feinberg, chief work force officer at Qmerit. Improving the public charging infrastructure will require creative ways to find and train electricians, he said.

That’s a lot of electricians.

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In general, America has a shortage of skilled labor. Our sister company Galpin Motors is always keeping an eye out for talented automotive technicians, which is something we should probably touch on some other day. So, if you’re an aimless high schooler pondering what you should do, consider becoming an automotive tech or an electrician who can fix EV chargers.

Ford And Hyundai Make A Deal With Tesla’s Gigacasting Supplier

Gigacasting Machine
Photo: IDRA

I’ve already touched on how “gigacasting” is the hot new word in automotive. Here’s how I previously described it:

Gigacasting—which is technically a Tesla term catching on in the wider world—does away with the lots-of-small-castings part by, instead, casting one giant piece. In theory, this has a lot of advantages. If you can make one big cast and skip the labor and energy involved in making a lot of little parts and putting them together you can make cars a lot faster.

Yes, it’s a Tesla neologism, but it’s a good one! Tesla currently uses Italian company IDRA to supply its gigacasting machines. Guess who also now has a contract with IDRA?

From Reuters:

A ‘gigapress 6,100’, which produces a clamping force of over 6,000 tons, with the Ford brand printed on it, had been assembled and was being tested in IDRA’s plant in Travalgiato, near Brescia, northern Italy during an industry event organised by the company on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An even bigger press, the 9,000, IDRA’s largest and newest model — the size of a small house or a tennis court — was being tested nearby but without the client’s name printed on it.

A source close to the matter, however, said it would be shipped to Hyundai group, adding both it and the one for Ford would initially be used only for R&D purposes.

The source said IDRA was also about to sign a supply contract for two 9,000 presses with a premium automaker in Europe, its first with a European group.

It’s a good time to be a gigapress maker.

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GM, Unifor Reach A Deal To End Strike

Canadian Unifor
Photo: Unifor/X

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Unifor going on strike against GM in Canada. Because it was yesterday. The strike is over, according to The Detroit News:

In a Tuesday statement, Marissa West, GM Canada president and managing director, said: “This record agreement, subject to member ratification, recognizes the many contributions of our represented team members with significant increases in wages, benefits and job security while building on GM’s historic investments in Canadian manufacturing.”

Larry Savage, a labor studies professor at Brock University in Ontario, said in a statement: “GM realized Unifor had significant leverage and the union clearly demonstrated it was willing to use that leverage to preserve the pattern in Canada.”

Is this another excuse for me to run another photo from Unifor’s Twitter account of them doing that weird, meek solidarity gesture?

Yes.

Happy 40th Anniversary To Audi Sport

40 Jahre Audi Sport Gmbh
Photo: Audi

I’ll admit, Audi Sport doesn’t quite have the cachet that M or AMG have, but what Audi Sport does have is a history of building amazing cars and winning races. It’s also the 40th anniversary. Here’s a bit from their press release:

quattro GmbH has existed since 1983, and in 2016, it was renamed as Audi Sport GmbH: Today, the wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG is shaping the sporty and exclusive image of the premium brand with the four rings even stronger than ever. “We look back proudly on the past 40 years and want to be even stronger in the future. To this end, we will selectively expand our model portfolio and our other service offerings together with AUDI AG. The sales records of recent years clearly underline our ambitions,” says Rolf Michl, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.

Happy Anniversary!

The Big Question

What’s your favorite Audi product of all time? [Ed Note: If you don’t answer Quattro or first-gen TT, then maybe just tell us your thoughts on technician/electrician/hands-on labor in the U.S., and the complicated way it’s portrayed in the context of college-degree-requiring office jobs. -DT]. 

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RootWyrm
RootWyrm
4 months ago

The U.S. will need at least 142,000 more certified electricians by 2030 to support the country’s electrification push, which includes EV charging, solar panels, battery storage, smart panels and more, according to Qmerit, a company that provides installation services for EV charging and other electrification technologies for homes and businesses.

Yeah, and good luck with that. Pay – like everyone else’s – has not even remotely kept pace. And fixing chargers is extremely hazardous, extremely un-fun outdoors only work. And is not something residential electricians should even be looking at.
“Oh, it’s just 800V!” No, children. Shut up. Qualified people are talking now.
If you want 250kW charging, then guess what? You need over 250kW of input – there’s a 20% derate for weather, temperature (moving electricity is hot work,) and various other losses. Then those losses get compounded by the AC to DC and AC to AC conversions; best case you typically get 89% of your AC input to your DC output. That’s very rare in an outdoor application.

So it’s all very high voltage (600V+ input,) very high current (hundreds of amps,) very complicated (multiple transformers, controllers, etc,) very dangerous, very unpleasant work. It takes many years of apprenticeship and continuous training to be qualified to work on this stuff.
In order to even get your foot in the door these days, you need an associates degree or a specific vocational program. (Enjoy your lifetime of student debt.) Then you need to become a journeyman by starting at the bottom as an apprentice; ALBAT offers the quickest path at FOUR YEARS. 5+ is more typical. Then you can test for your certification and apply for your licensing.
So that’s somewhere around NINE YEARS before you’re appropriately licensed to go out and fix these charging stations solo. Minimum. Not including all the training for the actual charging systems themselves, which is easily another 1-2 years.

And for all this effort? Your pay as an EV station repair person might someday reach $27 an hour if you’re really good. Maybe. Or you can stick with IBEW, go to work for the power company, and eventually reach a whole $37 an hour – though at least there, you get overtime, disaster pay, and can actually make a living.

Or, they do what the guys I know do, and they get into data centers. You work indoors, you have predictable hours, and you get top dollar. Plus it’s a lot less hazardous. Especially if you went the associates degree route.
Because yes, that is 100% a requirement. If you don’t apply for your entry-level position with a degree already in hand, you will immediately be passed over for literally anyone and everyone who has any sort of degree.

What’s your favorite Audi product of all time? [Ed Note: If you don’t answer Quattro or first-gen TT, then maybe just tell us your thoughts on technician/electrician/hands-on labor in the U.S., and the complicated way it’s portrayed in the context of college-degree-requiring office jobs. -DT].

I’m sorry, what? David, you cannot bring up the Audi TT without bringing up technician labor. Have you even heard of “assume the service position”?

And the real answer is the Audi S6 Avant. The old one from the 80’s, where they deleted all the ridiculous, pointlessly weird crap with the brakes, wrapped it in a clean unassuming wagon body, and stuffed the not-absolute-shit 4.2 V8 coupled to a 6 speed manual by default. (Also Senna approved.)

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Friends and family in the trades have been absolutely KILLING it in my area over the last few years. So much that I have to wonder if engineering was really a mistake. Probably bears mentioning that this is Michigan and they are ALL in unions, though.

But here’s the catch: none of them are working on EV chargers. They call anything under 4kV “low voltage” and work in industrial environments on big systems to make the big bucks and the consistent (usually overtime) hours.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
4 months ago

Yupyup. Once you make journeyman, anything under 4kV becomes “LV,” and now the industrial and data center spaces are open to you (to an extent, more in a sec.) 100A 480V ain’t no laughing matter, but it also sure as shit isn’t 7.2kV at ‘yes’ amps in the snow, rain, and hurricanes. And being part of IBEW should just be mandatory period.

Data center’s a lot harder to get into, at least the areas I work with. Because you’re gonna need not just your journeyman certificate and your high voltage certificates, you need UPS, genset, and HVDC training. (Talking 300VDC, 800VDC, and ‘yes’ amps.) And hours tend to be super predictable. You’re in there 8-5, and any overtime tends to be scheduled weeks or months in advance.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago

The key word here is “union”. In all the “right-to-work” states people can’t make a living as an experienced journeyman, it’s fucking ridiculous.
I am a software guy and would love to switch careers and work on electric cars, but at my age it would be financial suicide.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
4 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Very much in the same boat. I’m in IT, but have a lot of experience doing hobby electrical and offgrid solar systems, and have thought about switching careers, but I’m way too old for it to make any sense at this point.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

“And fixing chargers is extremely hazardous, extremely un-fun outdoors only work.”

And if you think that’s fun try fixing a substation sometime. Drive hours to the middle of nowhere, sweat in 116F Texas heat with no A/C because of course it’s broken while dressed in thick, heavy FR clothing, while working as quickly as possible to get that station online. Those tech guys live on the road, so much so that some have “shadow families”.

Pro tip: Those fences and warning signs aren’t kidding, the voltages on those things are so high just the current that leaks into the ground through the platform support legs is easily enough to kill you. You don’t even have to touch it, just the act of becoming a better conductor than the ground as you APPROACH the platform is enough.

Good times!

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
RootWyrm
RootWyrm
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Oh yeah, but at least there you get overtime, benefits, and the illusion of being able to retire. Plus a good $10 an hour more than they will ever make. Oh, and tools and actual safety equipment.
I’ve seen one of the ‘repair’ crews. Tiny Ford Transit van, no visible safety equipment at all. Fine if your only problem is the POS, but there ain’t no fucking way they could possibly be safe touching any HV segment.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

“there ain’t no fucking way they could possibly be safe touching any HV segment.”

Eh, here in ‘murica unless its kV+ it’s not actually HV.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_voltage

Loudog
Loudog
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Eh, I used to work on HV stuff in an adverse environment. If you’re not breaking 21kV on the device input you can get along with way less safety gear because the flashover potential is far less. We used golf carts. So it depends on the inherent safety design of the system.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
4 months ago
Reply to  Loudog

Remember the rule: it’s not the volts, it’s the amps. These are ‘HV’ to me because it’s >208, but it’s 100% my domain because it’s <7kV. It’s exactly the kind of setup I’m most familiar with. Relatively low voltage (480, 600) 3 phase with a fuckton of amps behind it.

Which means MAJOR arc flash risks. Operating the main switch on the typical cabinets I work with, you need cat 3 protection minimum. And that’s a fairly inherently safe system. These EV charging stations have insane flash and blast potential, since you’re talking medium voltage and very high amp at the customer facing plug.

Loudog
Loudog
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Nope. If it’s not a live substation, YOU TURN OFF THE FREAKING FEED BREAKER. Seriously. Lock and tag, as we did, and some of our power supplies were so big we had to call the power company before we could turn them on. Really, turn it off. At which point it’s all about torquing everything back together correctly. If the chargers don’t have individual protection circuits they do not meet code.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
4 months ago
Reply to  Loudog

Oh absolutely. Except for one problem, particularly around here.

1) they’re usually attached to a shared mini-sub
2) they’re not allowed to touch the mini-sub period. That is power company domain.
3) “Disconnects? What are those?” ZERO visible disconnects, just straight conduit from the mini-sub.

The one I’m most familiar has a 7kV mini-sub that supplies the shopping center, power company provides a step-down, and as far as I can tell, the EV stations are metered right off that step-down. Presumably they’re meeting code with internal protection, but only disconnect I can see if pulling the meter. It’s all buried cable.

Loudog
Loudog
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have disconnects because it’s not a truly high availability infrastructure — like a CO is. I’d love to see the schematics of the system.

Some of the stuff we had was connected by a 21kV vacuum breaker at the power supply. Pro tip: Never stand in front of one because if it opens under load it will leave the cabinet at speed, trailing silver plasma.

Last edited 4 months ago by Loudog
Thevenin
Thevenin
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Arc flash incident energy is defined by both voltage (linearly) and current (logarithmically). So at low voltage, the current matters more, and at high voltage, the voltage matters more. Regardless of potential energy, high voltage is considered more dangerous because of the ease of strikeover. Case in point, you can touch 480V with a (properly made) screwdriver, but try that with 38kV and you’re dead before you even make contact.

Source: I design and test the kind of equipment that has visible disconnects.

Thevenin
Thevenin
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Pro tip: Those fences and warning signs aren’t kidding, the voltages on those things are so high just the current that leaks into the ground through the platform support legs is easily enough to kill you.

I always say the solution to hazardous step voltage is to bunny-hop across the gravel. Luckily, nobody ever listens to me.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

How to commit the perfect murder: Offer to hold the victim’s beer.

Thevenin
Thevenin
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Hard agree. People consistently overstate how much the trades and understate how much it takes to get there. An awful lot of people watched Mike Rowe and never put together that they were watching an opera singer turned TV host talking to business owners and not the actual blue collar workers.

It’s the pay. It’s always the pay. We have a shortage in the trades because nobody wants to pay them what they’re worth, and so two entire generations went white-collar instead.

There are exceptions and niches (everyone has a friend of a friend), but overall electricians average $65k and electrical engineers average $115k. We act like electrician is a dumb job for dumb people, but it isn’t. If you’re smart enough to be an electrician, you’re probably smart enough to get an engineering degree… so most people did.

(Sidenote: this same substitution effect is why the US has a shortage of electrical engineers. Software and networking just pay better, and the career pivot is easier than you’d think.)

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
4 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

Yep. I left the dealer because dealer techs just plain don’t make enough money for what they do. I constantly hear about the technician shortage and why no one wants to be a tech anymore but at the same time, flat rate times keep dropping and techs need to fight more and more warranty and process BS that makes it harder for them to actually make money. The amount of techs won’t increase until the average pay increases.

Now I’m working an office job which pays well but I hate it. I’ve been considering going back to school for a trade, maybe an electrician or machinist but from a bit of research, if I did that I’d more than likely end up taking a pretty significant pay cut from what I do right now. I’d love to get back out there doing something hands on where I feel a sense of actual accomplishment at the end of the day but I just can’t accept the pay cut I’d take to do so.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

I don’t understand how anyone does a technician job with the shit pay and high expectations involved in auto repair

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
4 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I always say that if I lost my job today, I’d go be a manager at McDonalds or something like that before I set foot into a dealership again. I wouldn’t be tearing my body up and I’d probably make as much, if not more than I would just starting out in a shop again.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
4 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

People seriously discount taking on a career in the hospitality industry as something that can legitimately pay your bills.

All accounted for (I’m in a location where tipping is the culture) if you manage your income well, and treat the job seriously and get in at either a high quality independent restaurant or one of the well managed upper-mid chains and you’re easily doubling the salary of say, a drywaller or a commercial painter without absolutely destroying your body, you just have to accept the working hours and build a life around it. Not for everybody, but it’ll put a roof over your head and food in your mouth, you just need to save some fat from the boom times of year through the lean times

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

And for the reasons you expressed above, I made the decision to be a brain surgeon vs an electrician.
And like most public chargers, I also only work about 20% of the time.
Time is money after all.

Last edited 4 months ago by Col Lingus
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I used to work next to a company that made radio and television transmitters. The stories I heard about transmission towers sound awfully similar. Not so much becasue of the voltage of the equipment, but the extremely high potential voltage of the antenna to ground. The people servicing these had some pretty serious procedures to follow. Especially if there were potential electrical storms.

I’m not sure what the labour shortage might be in that application, but there is probably some cross skill involved.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

My favorite Audi products are the wagons. I don’t think I particularly care to drill down more specifically, because I don’t remember seeing an Audi wagon I didn’t like.

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Fox wagon.

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

Understanding electricity would be useful for me, but every time I try to learn about it I get a bit dumber and know even less about electricity.

As far as my favorite Audi Product of all time is concerned it is one I have never driven: Audi A2. Economy car with an aluminum spaceframe and mostly aluminum construction, and of course you could get it with a Diesel!

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
4 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Suggestion: learn really basic fluid dynamics first. Like, intro YouTube shit. The flow of water makes a lot of intuitive sense. Then go back and look at introductory electrical and circuits material. It’s all the same equations, and your intuition from fluid flow will still work for electron flow.

Despite having a degree in it, I still think electricity is sorcery. But life is more fun as a wizard than as a Muggle.

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

I think I’ll leave the spicy magic to the sorcerers, I’m better with machines whose function I can work out using my eyes.

Ben
Ben
4 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Play with some low voltage stuff. It won’t kill you, and the worst that might happen is you let the magic smoke out of something if you connect the wrong wires together. Having at least a basic understanding of electrical circuits is becoming increasingly important if you want to work on your own cars. Of the last four major repairs I’ve had to do, all but one have been electrical-related.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben

When I was 2 years old I stuck a metal nail file into the wall socket as my parental units were sleeping. My Dad would pull the cord off the TV at night so they could sleep while I missed the 6 am cartoons on TV. My tiny brain was trying to figure out if the TV could turn on without a power cord attached.
When I woke up from the event I was 14 feet away from the wall socket against the wall on the other side of the room. And there was a huge black scorched mark around the wall socket.
Then Mom had the bright idea of leaving the TV cord attached 24/7, but she removed the volume knob instead.

This experience is what led me to become a solar engineer rather than an electrician, sunburns heal faster than electrical burns.
YMMV.

Peter d
Peter d
4 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Don’t use the (entry) Electrical Engineering texts – instead use a good college physics textbook, they do a much better job explaining the fundamentals of electricity. Then, if you want to pull your hair out, dig into the EE textbooks and do the Thevenins and Norton’s Equivalents problems that barely resemble any real-world problems. Then just start playing with circuits for fun – there are a lot of fun kits available for not too much $.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
4 months ago

A. I’m in the trades, and lemme tell you what no one ever talks about. It’s physical work, and as I approach 60 years old, my body is wearing out. But I have to work 5-7 more years in order to collect my pension and Social Security, all while wearing out my body even more. The fat cats with desk jobs and degrees want to push the retirement age beyond 67. Being in the trades isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

B. None of the stats I see specify *why* EV chargers are out of service, but I want to know what percentage of failed chargers are due to vandalism. I’ve seen enough photos of charging leads being cut off by meth heads looking for $15 of scrap copper, and then there are the anti-EV crowd also doing vandalism. Maybe it was a dumb idea to put charging stations in a far-off corner of the parking lot with no attendants.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

A: My father was a union welder back when union=suckheads in charge, and his body was toast after 20 years of work. Never recovered.

B: excellent points. Lots of assholes breaking lots of stuff.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Need some of those robot dogs to guard them.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

The retirement issue is a tough one, because you are absolutely right that a body can only do hard labor so long, even if you forget about the risk of debilitating injury. Despite that, we keep seeing people delay retirement longer and longer because it’s not attainable. A significant portion of my crews at work are beyond “retirement age” (and some have retired and returned). They’re pushing themselves to keep working, and they are hurting for it. There need to be options for people to work less physically demanding jobs as their bodies need that, at least if we aren’t going to ensure people can retire.

Sadly, the only retraining to get into less labor-intensive jobs seems to be for injured workers. I’d love to see us preparing people in physically demanding roles to step into support roles later in their careers.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I’ve floated around the construction industry for years, or have beem adjacent to it at a minimum.

The first thing everyone smart enough learns, even before they get thier ticket is, you end up on the tools becasue you probably didn’t have a choices, once you can leverage the ticket do whatever you can to get off the tools. Usually that even comes with a pay bump.

And then all you get is complaints that “no one wants to work anymore” interjected with stories about how when the old timers were coming up they had a crappy truck, roof over their head and enough money for gas and smokes working part time while going to trade school.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Usernametaken

Yeah, and the old-timers conveniently ignore that they were able to buy a home about 10 minutes into their careers and also were trying to get the cashier, easier, higher-paying jobs. They just feel like it took them longer to get there and/or they ignore that the new guys are also coming up in a rough situation and just want to be in a better place.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

“The fat cats with desk jobs and degrees want to push the retirement age beyond 67. Being in the trades isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

At least with the trades you start earning early AND you get on the job training. In some professions thanks to expectation inflation a degree is required even when it is not needed, on the job training is a fantasy and you earn basically nothing, maybe even less while working on those degrees.

Last edited 4 months ago by Cheap Bastard
JDE
JDE
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

In my experience with IBEW’s at least, Seniority gets you choices of more desk type jobs or GF jobs supervising the younglings in the related jobs. but yeah, that is especially problematic on assembly lines as the job is very repetitive and chances for advancement are more few and far between.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

The chargers on the street in Downtown LA are just destroyed. Screens shattered, cables cut, covered with layers of graffiti, set on fire… They aren’t even public chargers, they are for a carshare program that no one uses because the chargers get destroyed. Anything not behind blast doors when the sun goes down will get smashed and set on fire.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

As someone who went to college, got a degree, entered the workforce, went back for grad school, then ended up in a job that would be better served by trade school, I don’t feel exactly betrayed by the push for college. A well-rounded education is good, and college provides a good chunk of that. I’d love to see college and trade school work in tandem (and not put either out of reach of anyone). And not just one way. You want a sociology degree? Cool, you still need a class or two of trade school pre-reqs. Becoming an electrician? Sure, and you’ll still need an English composition class and maybe something like a philosophy class. Formal logic is a good choice, but you can choose ethics or something if you prefer.

Having well-rounded people with technical skills supplemented by other education or whatever course of education supplemented by technical skills will help people understand each other and help students actually choose a path that works for them, whether a trade or whatever else.

(This, of course, could be colored by the fact that I work with a boiler technician who is fantastic at his job and also an accomplished translator of ancient Hebrew texts. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and being well-rounded seems to be part of that.)

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I love everything about your post.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Don’t the community college trade programs do just that? They have those general ed classes like composition, in addition to the actual trades courses.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Some do, yes. That’s part of why I think it would work, because I currently have coworkers in both kinds of trades programs! I’d love to see that be universal and reciprocal. Locally, it seems they have the choice of whether to get the associates or the certificate, the former having more gen ed courses. And people outside the programs are not taking any of the trades courses, as far as I know.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

My father, who was a farmer and the local blacksmith used to hang out and spend afternoons talking about Shakespeare and Mongolian history, (not that I believe there was much overlap, but they were both things they had studied )
My father had a degree in economics, my mother, to come to think of it, and I’m not sure what sort of advanced degree the blacksmith had.
Back then, and I think the G.I. Bil may have had something to do with it, an education was considered to be a good thing, quite apart from some sort of career.
In my own generation, I know several Ivy League carpenters, and high end plasterers.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

The cost of college and the cost of living make it hard. As a first-generation college grad, the cost was drilled into me as a reason I needed to get a scholarship and then finish college ONCE. Grad school was looked down on, as was any change in course.
Then, once I was out, college was an expense I couldn’t justify. It took over 10 years for me to go back for grad school, and that was because of education assistance at my workplace. People without that REALLY struggle.

My parents had the opportunity to go to college without the risk of massive debt, but they skipped that to go straight to work. They have sometimes regretted it, but never enough to spend the time and money.

The GI Bill is great, though. I have seen people able to really change their lives because they could afford to not just go to college, but focus on it, since it also gives money beyond tuition. You don’t need to work full-time and go to school.

I’d love to see education accessible to everyone. The world would be better for it, and a LOT of individuals would be.

Strangek
Strangek
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I work at a technical college and I’m all about the mission of schools like mine. It was not something I ever considered when I was a youth unfortunately. I went through college and grad school and now I work with students in the trades most of whom will instantly make more than me upon graduating. Good for them, they deserve it and we need their skills! Most of our trade programs do require some amount of general education courses, English, Psychology, etc.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Obviously you are a communist with your bullshit clearheaded humanism

Last edited 4 months ago by DadBod
Ben
Ben
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

100% agreed. By far the most important classes I took in college were not the ones in my major, it was the gen eds in stuff like philosophy and religion that I didn’t want to take but turn out to have a lot to do with understanding the world and why things happen.

I also consider college a good stepping stone to adulthood. There’s still some oversight, but far less than what you had in high school (usually) and it’s a relatively safe place to make some mistakes as you figure out how to live on your own.

Protodite
Protodite
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I think you hit it well – it’s no where near the justification for the price anymore. I’ve seen in here some other comments mentioning the GI Bill – and that probably plays into it a lot. It created the degree as a must have commodity, which it most certainly isn’t. I loved my time in college, but it was hardly worth the price of admission…

Ron, on the reservation
Ron, on the reservation
4 months ago

No favorite model here. But, my all time favorite car magazine cover; Automobile, #2, May 1996: “Audi shows us its TTs”

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

Perhaps the whole Electrify America being a VW thing resulting from the Diesel gate Scam, and the required spending being for new chargers and less on repairs has a little to do with the chargers failing so often?

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  JDE

it’s always the maintenance costs that get ya

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
4 months ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

And VW should know that better than anyone 😛

Marlin May
Marlin May
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Here, take all of the thumbs up!

Last edited 4 months ago by Marlin May
Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
4 months ago

When I was stationed in Germany in the mid 70’s, I owned a Audi 75 (model not year) Variant. It was a sprightly little wagon with loads of storage in the back. It had a 4cyl in-line with a 4spd on the tree. Shortly after we bought it, I got my one and only DUI so my wife did all of the driving. She loved the car, especially the way it handled snow on the hills surrounding Bamberg. We sold it when we returned to the states. I still have fond memories of that little wagon.

I might tell the story of the DUI later. It was “interesting”!

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
4 months ago

I have never been an Audi fan for some reason. I acknowledge they have made some great cars, but I’m not particularly fond of any of them. If I had to pick one, it would be the first generation R8 with a V10, but only because they are mechanically similar to the Lamborghini Gallardo (which is one of my favorite cars). So in a way, my favorite Audi product of all time is the Lamborghini Gallardo.

Last edited 4 months ago by Stig's Cousin
XXLTall
XXLTall
4 months ago

The gas pumps are highly reliable because of years of redesign. Those old ones with big glass bowls prob as good as current chargers so they needed station attendants. Once chargers get to solid robust design that can be installed and repaired quickly then we can be in a good spot. Till then you need an attendant level of care.

3WiperB
3WiperB
4 months ago

The need for electricians is real, and if you need a good career without accumulating college debt, it’s a great option. It can be hard physical work, but it pays well. The other item not mentioned as part of the electrification movement is replacing things that use natural gas with electric. This is going to require significant electrical upgrades in most buildings in the US, as well as probably more capacity increase on the grid than EV’s. That’s because most EV’s charge at night when demand is low, but buildings need heat all day long. There’s no end in sight for demand for electricians out there, You can’t replace that job with AI either.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
4 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Every few years there’s a cry for tradespeople. A good practical skill and a career that sadly has some ups/downs over the years and treated poorly by a large number of employers.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

That and the toxic job sites and bullshit hazing make the trades a tad less attractive

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
4 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I can only imagine how toxic it could get for women.

(edit: spelling)

Last edited 4 months ago by Spikedlemon
Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago

Yet another reason why EVs are simply not ready for primetime…and may never be

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

Is it a rule that charging station technicians have to drive EVs on the job, because that might help explain why it takes so long to get repairs effected.

Favorite Audi? It’s a tie: 1st gen Audi TT Quattro and Audi A7 TDI. The Avant was a close third.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

I highly doubt it, but if your job by definition involves driving a lot of miles over a large graphic area to destinations that ALWAYS have a charger when you get there, you’d stand to save a ton of money and maybe even time, too.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago

I’ve a soft spot for the D2 S8. Saddle fuel tank needing tubes and such replaced (from age) aside, there’s very little to go wrong on them. They just work, and they’re very honest to drive in a way that is reasonably pleasing.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
4 months ago

2001 Audi S4, Yellow, 6 speed.

Goof
Goof
4 months ago

A billion years ago, I had a boss with exactly this (Imola Yellow), an Allroad with the same 2.7T, and a Land Rover Discovery.

Guy put some mechanic’s kids through college.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
4 months ago

My favorite Audi RS2 Avant in that beautiful blue.

MrAcoustics
MrAcoustics
4 months ago

Favorite Audi: RS2 followed by Sport Quattro. I am little biased to wagons though as an owner of a 95 S6 avant.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
4 months ago

Broken EV Chargers Need Electricians We Don’t Have
Who would’ve thought there’d be actual consequences for actively discouraging participation in blue collar jobs and trades strictly in favor of college enrollment? I mean, besides thousands and thousands in the workforce carrying crippling, predatory student loans, that is.

DaChicken
DaChicken
4 months ago

+1

I remember being a high school student in the late 90s and the guidance counselors playing up college all the time. Kids that had no idea what they wanted to do for a living being pushed into getting degrees (and loans) they had no idea what to do with. Crazy.

Granted, I did go the college route because it made sense for what I wanted to do for a living.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
4 months ago
Reply to  DaChicken

I was also a high school student in the late 90s. I literally had no idea the trades existed. The guidance counselors acted like my options were a 4-year degree or flipping burgers. I chose college and got a degree in psychology. When I was close to graduating, my academic advisor said my degree in psychology qualified me for “many jobs with low pay and high turnover.” Great.

I ended up going back to school for a premed program and later went to medical school, but I have no idea what I would have done if medical school didn’t work out. Plus, while I make good money now, I was $300k in debt when I started in my first real job in my mid 30s. I talk to tradesmen who make six figures and have done so since their 20s. It is not even clear I’m coming out ahead economically.

Knowing how things worked out, I would have chosen the college/medical school option. But so many things could have wrong along the way and I could have been stuck with a lot of student debt and limited job prospects. It would have been nice to know I had options, and it would have been nice to have an accurate assessment of the risks and benefits of those options.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Are you me? My parents literally (CONSTANTLY) told me that it was “go to college or spend your life [flipping burgers/pumping gas].”

And yeah, college was for me. I’ve been a lawyer for 13 years and I love it. It will be nice in a few months when my ~$350K in debt is paid off! But my husband quite corporate life to build houses a few years ago, and we talk about how he could have a huge, established contracting business by now if he hadn’t spent all that time at a desk.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago

the pendulum is swinging back towards “hey, there are some decent jobs that don’t require college,” but A) it’s slow, and B) “no college” doesn’t mean “no schooling or training,” but it’s just that the training is better focused and more practical

Peter d
Peter d
4 months ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

The big issue is there is no way to avoid the 4 or more year of indentured servitude of the apprenticeship requirements – there should be an alternative path with 1 or 2 years school and one year of apprenticeship. Most apprentices do the same thing over and over and don’t really get much more experience doing different things after the first few months with a given employer, although if you change employers who have different specialties/customer sets maybe you can get more than 48 months of repeating the same work.

3WiperB
3WiperB
4 months ago

Yeah, my wife gets offended sometimes that I bring up the trades as options for kid #3. She doesn’t understand that he could probably make more that our kids that are going to college and have no debt. My kids are at least going to college for good degrees (electrical engineering and law). Kid #3 has a lot of energy and is always running around, and I think he would be miserable behind a desk all day. I’m not actively pushing him either way, but I want him to know there are options and want to give him the chance to explore those options. I design electrical systems for buildings, so I see first hand and work with some great commercial electricians that are very happy and successful in their careers.

Last edited 4 months ago by 3WiperB
Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
4 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

This is the way. I want my kids to be aware of all options available to them, and empower them with the agency to choose (with maybe a little guidance as needed or wanted) for themselves. Although I chose college and lucked out in a number of ways as a result of it, I wish I had at least been provided my full array of choices. I’ve discovered that I’m actually pretty capable with trades-adjacent skills, and sometimes I wonder what could’ve been. I don’t want my kids to feel that way when they’re older.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

The other obstacle, at least in my experience, is that the labor shortage for blue collar jobs makes actually working blue collar jobs miserable much of the time. I worked at a machine shop for three days, and it was such an overworked place operating on tight margins that nobody had time to properly train me or check if I was doing things right, so I made a newbie mistake that cost three hours of time cleaning out a clogged machine that I didn’t know could get clogged, and that was enough to convince them hiring apprentices was too big of a risk. But that job experience was so awful that not only was I actually relieved I didn’t have to come to work the next day, it convinced me to give college another try so I never have to work in that kind of environment again. College is hard work too, but at least I can sit the frick down while doing it, and I no longer have to debate whether showering to get the grease and aluminum shavings off is worth enduring more tremendous leg and foot pain at the end of the day.

Many hands makes light work, and until employers are willing and able to pay many hands, most blue collar work just isn’t worth it IMO. I greatly respect people who put up with it though, they got physical endurance I can only dream of.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Fair point. Although I’ve had my own experiences, and heard of others’ as well, with negative workplace culture as post-graduate employees too. I think that reflects more on the employer than the field of work (generally). Still, I can see why you’d come out of that situation feeling the way you did and going back to college, but I believe this can cut both ways.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

It does seem like the way to do it if you go the blue-collar route is to be an independent contractor and be your own boss. That just wasn’t an option for me as someone who needed training first. Similarly, my hope is that with the major I’m pursuing – mechanical engineering – I’ll eventually be able to design my own product and go into business for myself. Or at least work for a small startup company where I can feel like a more significant part of the business.

What I did learn from machining was that I want to be the one designing things, I hated making parts I didn’t know the purpose of and having no insight into why it was designed the way it was. Even assuming I learn more about machining in the future, I want it to be so I can machine parts I designed, not somebody else’s parts. Basically I want a job where I get to be creative.

3WiperB
3WiperB
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

My son did the same. He did a machine shop for 2 summers while going to college for electrical engineering. It was good experience for him, but he also knows he doesn’t want to do that for a living.

I’ll tell you too, I love seeing stuff like machine shop experience on a resume for a new engineer. It says a lot about their willingness try things and they don’t typically have a sense of entitlement. They usually learn a lot there too. I know they will have a sense that the things they draw have to be able to be constructed.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Yeah, it seems to me a lot of design in general would go a lot smoother if the stylists had some working knowledge of engineering, the engineers had some knowledge of machining and appreciation of styling, and the machinists are in the room to understand what they’re making and point out ways to make the production process smoother/less unnecessarily complex.

Specialization is great and all if it means you can excel at your thing, but not knowing much about what the others on your team do leads to conflicts of interest when not everyone is taking the others’ needs into account.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
4 months ago

Exactly! As a student in the 60s and 70s all we ever heard was this.
“Don’t be a loser and work with your hands. Go to college and be part of the wealthy class.”
Yeah that worked out well…

Oldskool
Oldskool
4 months ago

Another 90s high school graduate here. And same here, they always pushed the agenda that trade school was for dropouts. I wouldn’t be surprised if high schools got a kickback for every kid they pushed into college. Yeah I had a knack for math, but I ever since I was little I preferred building things and working with my hands. I didn’t even want to go to college. I started in the metal shop before I got my engineering degree. Once I started the office work, I noticed the difference in my back and neck and other things. It’s said that sitting is the new smoking. Especially for 10-12 hours a day. At least if there’s time, I can work on cars and weld things when I get home. The trades can be rough but at least I would be fit. I prefer working alone rather than dealing with office politics. And one thing that seems to have been a permanent situation is there are never enough tradesmen, there is always work and many make more than I do. In the office you never really know if you’re gonna be laid off or on OT or what. Trades can be long hours, but I’ve had to spend countless late nights and weekends in the office as well. There’s pros and cons to both. Kids need all choices available, not just college by default.

And it’s not just chargers and EVs maintained. The number of EVs currently on the road is what, maybe 5%? The grid is already maxed out in many areas, especially optimal EV areas like California, and running on borrowed time. To get to even 50% of EV use, we are going to need a lot of electricians just to upgrade the grid and build more power plants. All that juice has to come from somewhere.

Last edited 4 months ago by Oldskool
Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago

Aside from unobtainables like the Sport quattro, my fave is the B3 Audi 80/90. I will take a 1990 Audi 90 20V quattro in Pearl, please.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
4 months ago

Favorite Audi? Sport quattro.
On becoming an electrician? Start as an apprentice with IBEW. But electricity is wizardry and witchcraft so you really need to be into it and smart enough to understand it.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
4 months ago

There is no skill shortage, only a pay shortage.There is a looooooooooooong line to get on the wait list for an IBEW apprenticeship, which is slightly shorter if you’re a veteran.

Hey, do those Galpin jobs come with a free Autopian membership? 😛

The best Audi is the Porsche 924 LOL

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

What’s the bottleneck for apprenticeship slots? If IBEW is manufacturing the shortage to benefit members, I can’t really fault them for acting in their self-interest, but that perhaps indicates it’s time for the government to intervene in the people’s interest.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
4 months ago

Lack of instructors and teachers

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago

Let me guess: anyone qualified to train electricians can make more money being an electrician?

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
4 months ago

Well, that and not everyone is cut out to teach

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago

Who pays the instructors? What would it take to raise raise their pay up to a motivating level? Is the answer “IBEW members voting to pay increased dues to fund the education of new electricians who will then compete with them and drive down pay”?

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

there absolutely is a skill shortage. Can you be more specific with what you mean there? Lots of skilled-ish jobs going unfilled.

But you are also correct that some stuff is drastically underpaid, which helps the first part of what you said

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
4 months ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

If there really was a skill shortage, pay would quickly be shooting up.

10001010
10001010
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Not according to what I’ve seen, skill shortage just means dig deeper and hire less-qualified.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  10001010

I mean, there’s some of that, too…but what I see in local trades between two states is that there are some places that will pay for people because it is a long-term thing. And then there are people that just are fine with fine enough, because they’ve done the math and they don’t care about the overall cost because it’s way cheaper to suck as a company than to grow the business.

10001010
10001010
4 months ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

Where I work all of the unskilled replacements are draining resources from other departments. It’s a case of spending a dollar to save a nickel. Sound business plan.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  10001010

It is when its the company’s dollar and the nickel is your bonus.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

I think we’re getting there, no? I mean, base pay around here is quickly ratcheting up, and specifically because if you don’t throw some more coin at a new hire, the guy down the street sure will.

Different regions/careers, YMMV, etc.

V10omous
V10omous
4 months ago

I don’t think I’d be true to myself if I didn’t answer the S8 V10.

Followed closely by the first RS7.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

All of the S8’s are certified sleepers. Hilariously fast limousines. They really don’t get the cred they deserve.

Thomas Hundal
Thomas Hundal
4 months ago

Favourite Audi of all time? Either the 1987 5000 CS Quattro Avant, the D3 S8 or the 2009 R8 V10.

Paul B
Paul B
4 months ago

Smarter charger design can reduce the need for high voltage technicians.

Design the chargers in a modular fashion. The more common servicing and repairs are done after the power to the charger is locked out. You can even put an interlock on the service access.

There should be no need to be working with the charger is energized for 80+ % of repairs.

Chargers are not complicated devices (save for software).

You’ll still need trained technicians for repairs, but for this level, less training and certification would be required.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

and yet doesn’t solve all of the other needs that require electricians to get EVs to work

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“these are extremely high-voltage systems and not just anyone can work on them.”

1000V is “extremely high-voltage” now? I guess this guy has never been to a substation.

That guy
That guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Or he is part of a union and thinking of going on strike

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  That guy

look, another stupid bootlicker post

That guy
That guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Utherjorge

Good to see you again, my friend

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago
Reply to  That guy

I love you

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  That guy

If he’s union he really should have known better. By official definitions EV chargers aren’t even “high” voltage:

The International Electrotechnical Commission and its national counterparts (IET, IEEE, VDE, etc.) define high voltage as above 1000 V for alternating current, and at least 1500 V for direct current.

In the United States, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) establishes nominal voltage ratings for 60 Hz electric power systems over 100 V. Specifically, ANSI C84.1-2020 defines high voltage as 115 kV to 230 kV, extra-high voltage as 345 kV to 765 kV, and ultra-high voltage as 1,100 kV. British Standard BS 7671:2008 defines high voltage as any voltage difference between conductors that is higher than 1000 VAC or 1500 V ripple-free DC, or any voltage difference between a conductor and Earth that is higher than 600 VAC or 900 V ripple-free DC.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_voltage

DaChicken
DaChicken
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

To be fair, this guy in the story is just chit-chatting with some rando bugging him on the way to work so he’s probably going to dumb down his responses to make conversation.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  DaChicken

Probably.

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