Opportunities that electric-only offers to our workforce
Our managers are encouraging all employees to help shape the mobility revolution and to contribute their skills and competences. Job profiles are changing and new employment fields arising, while locations are adapting to the new requirements. In order to make full use of the potential offered by the transformation, we ensure our workforce is well qualified and fit for this new challenge. We asked our Board of Management member responsible for Human Resources and Director of Labour Relations, as well as employee representatives and employees, the following question: What does the transformation to electric mobility mean for the world of work, and how are you experiencing it at Mercedes-Benz?
Electric mobility is the future — I’m absolutely convinced of this. That’s why I’m proud to work in the battery assembly unit at Mercedes. At the Hedelfingen plant we produce the battery systems for our first all-electric luxury saloon, the EQS, and also for the EQE, which will be launched soon. In our unit we deal with high electric voltages. This is why everyone who wants to work at our unit has to complete a corresponding qualification programme. Admittedly, the exams are challenging — especially for someone like me, who didn’t have any prior knowledge in the electrical sector. But the programme is worthwhile! We have the opportunity to help design assembly processes, and that motivates me every single day.
A passion for technology unites all of us at Mercedes. That’s why our entire department is helping to shape the transformation, and we’re developing electric drive systems with all our heart and soul. Personally, this is one of the most exciting assignments! Of course it has required us to change our mindset and retrain. In order to get everyone on the team excited about the work, we’ve offered test drives and held discussions with experts who do research on electric drive systems, for example. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved. Starting in 2024, every electric drive system in a Mercedes will have been developed in our department.
In my opinion, socially acceptable change will come about if we successfully bring together sustainability, economic efficiency and secure jobs over the long term. I believe that the key factor is the continuous upgrading of our colleagues’ qualifications. We at Mercedes-Benz have incredibly strong specialists, who make up a high percentage of the workforce! To ensure things stay that way in the future, we also have to support talented young people further, such as our trainees and students. For me it’s obvious that this is a meaningful investment in the future. Factors such as climate change are presenting us with huge challenges. Through our work in the area of electric mobility we are going in the right direction, and as a company we can continue to offer attractive jobs that assure security and future opportunities.
The transformation to an electric and digital future is a major challenge, and at the same time a great opportunity. With our employees, we’ll seize this chance successfully by working together as a powerful Mercedes-Benz team. After all, transformation starts with people — so, sustainable human resources planning is the key to success. It is obvious that tasks and job profiles are changing and shifting. This is precisely why we’re counting on our employees’ lifelong eagerness to learn, which we support with customized qualification programmes and integrated learning formats. Our goal is to shape the changes responsibly, and in a socially acceptable and future-oriented manner. By orienting our corporate strategy towards a sustainable future, we’re securing the success of the company and employment at the same time.
The most important message for our employees on the topic of transformation is: We support colleagues at all times and stand by their side. As employee representatives, we pay very close attention to how the changeover to electric mobility affects our own locations and trades. Our ambition is to actively shape the change. This means that we think ahead, contribute ideas, bring about decisions and do not limit ourselves to reacting. What this means in concrete terms is demonstrated by our demands for our own battery production, the development of necessary know-how and the insourcing of innovative value-added potential and additional e-components. In intensive discussions and negotiations, we’ve already achieved a lot together with the management to secure employment at our locations. Only with a concerted effort can we shape the change fairly and socially.
We at the Metalworkers’ Union are strongly committed to a fair transformation. We’re advocating that the ecological transformation is shaped in ways that are socially just and democratic. That’s the only way we can reach the climate goals — if we include everyone and take the employees’ concerns into account. Clear commitments to jobs and investments are important, and they generate a sense of security as well as acceptance of the transformation. That’s why the priority for governments and companies should be obvious: safeguarding employment in places where it already exists today. For example, Mercedes-Benz has decided to convert its plant in Berlin-Marienfelde to electric motor production. That’s an important signal to the workforce!
At IndustriALL, a global federation of labour unions, we’re especially interested in the worldwide impacts of the transformation on employees. Through a socially oriented transnational dialogue, we are working together with our partners from industry to develop global standards that will make a just transformation possible. Of course, this is not always easy, because of geographic and cultural differences, but at the same time, it’s enthralling. During volatile times, we stand beside employees all over the world in a spirit of solidarity, and we direct their attention to opportunities. In the discussions about the transformation in the work environment, people sometimes don’t speak often enough about the fact that new jobs are also being created by the transformation of mobility, for example — jobs that would also be very suitable for metalworkers if they’re open to receiving the relevant further qualification. Quite a few workers also possess skills that might not be recorded on paper but are extremely valuable on the job market. We must work together to exploit this potential! It’s vital for the automobile industry to assert itself against the gigantic tech companies. I’m very confident that this effort can succeed, especially now that everyone has understood that there is no alternative to electric mobility.