The New Year sees Volkswagen systematically forging ahead with its electric offensive and the transformation of the factories in Zwickau, Dresden, Emden and Hanover to become production locations for electric vehicles.
The Zwickau facility is the trailblazer for this transformation, with the compact ID. already going into production there at the end of this year. By then, Volkswagen will have qualified thousands of employees to perform their future tasks. Along with further fundamental organizational and structural changes, this is an enormous endeavor for the company and the workforce.
Europe’s largest and most efficient electric vehicle factory is currently taking shape in Zwickau. This is the world’s first complete transformation of a major car manufacturing facility. Going forward, the factory will exclusively build electric vehicles based on the Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB), and will have an annual production capacity of 330,000 units.
The transformation to e-mobility is an enormous endeavor for Volkswagen, the Zwickau factory and its workforce. It involves a fundamental change of system with far-reaching organizational and structural shifts that include among other things establishing a suitable infrastructure, providing eco-friendly power generation for climate protection and, of course, comprehensive qualification of the workforce.
To bring about this structural change, employees will be contributing several hundred thousand hours from their working time accounts in 2019 alone, over one hundred employees will be working at other Group locations in Saxony and elsewhere over the course of the year, and there will also be other measures to safeguard jobs while at the same time achieving maximum flexibility as structural change is implemented.
Every single employee in Zwickau is affected by the ongoing change process. The company has drawn up a comprehensive qualification program for the team. Under this program, 8,000 employees will be involved in the change process, there will be more than 300 in-depth training courses for 3,500 employees, some 1,400 employees will be prepared for working with high-voltage technology, 160 employees will receive intensive training in special high-voltage topics, 3,000 employees will attend courses at the e-mobility training center, and there will also be vocational training for several dozen electrical/electronics specialists.
The necessary structural adjustments not only affect Volkswagen, but also impact small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Together with their personnel, they too must master new technologies. Volkswagen is therefore also making the required training know-how from the Volkswagen Educational Institute available to these businesses. Talks on openings under the qualification opportunities legislation are currently being held with the relevant employment agency with a view to identifying how the education program can be meaningfully offered to regional SMEs and suppliers – these efforts aim primarily at ensuring future-proof and sustainable employment in the automotive industry as well as further afield.
The pilot site in Zwickau has already given Volkswagen extensive insights into the qualifications required for the transformation and the optimal training formats to qualify employees from different fields for their new tasks. Via its network of academies, the company will share this know-how with all its sites worldwide affected by the transformation, such as the factories in China that are also gearing up to produce electric vehicles.
There will be further additions to Volkswagen’s production network for electric vehicles following the pilot phase in Zwickau. The decision has been taken to produce electric cars at the Emden and Hanover factories in Germany as well. Dresden was completely converted to the production of electric vehicles back in April 2017.