Sarah Crane
Economic Growth Institute, University of Michigan
(734) 998-0155

Study explores emerging middle skill jobs in the connected and automated vehicle sector

Ann Arbor, MichiganConnected and automated vehicles (CAV) present future economic opportunities for companies and regions that are able to capitalize on their growth.  Often overlooked in this evolution are the middle skills jobs that will be integral in this sector’s development.  While many workforce reports emphasize the gaps in highly-skilled positions, such as engineers, the middle skills jobs are also evolving and skill set gaps are growing, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

The U-M Economic Growth Institute, commissioned by American Center for Mobility and funded through Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, studied skill sets of middle-skill employees working in organizations leading the design, testing, and infrastructure support for CAVs in Southeast Michigan. 

“The skill sets in the talent pool of the CAV sector in Michigan are diverse and complex,” said Steve Wilson, director of the U-M Economic Growth Institute. “Middle skill workers support research and development in a unique way through their understanding of the hands-on components and applications of new technologies.” 

The study’s findings highlight the evolution of middle-skill jobs as connected and automated features rapidly increase in vehicles. Technicians comprise the majority of the middle-skills job related to testing, design and infrastructure support. In more than 60 interviews, industry and public employers emphasized the needs for soft skills and technical skills. The technical skill sets are broken into three different levels of skills:

  • Base skills, including mechanical, electrical, and electronic knowledge,
  • Enhanced skills, including software and data-related systems knowledge, and
  • Emerging skills, including systems and cybersecurity knowledge. 

The skill sets also align with the workforce gaps currently facing the CAV industry. Current gaps are most significant in base skills, especially in the integration of the three areas.  The study forecasts increasing gaps in skills as job requirements shift to enhanced and emerging skill sets. 

“American Center for Mobility sought data on middle skills jobs in CAV test and infrastructure to support the development of programs and activities that leverage hands-on experiences at the ACM test center, and to ultimately support growth in the mobility workforce. The implications and solutions range from K12 to higher education and will inform additional skills development for professionals.” says ACM Director of Strategy, Marketing & Programming, Dawn Thompson. 

To learn more about the study and request a copy of the report please visit: 

The Economic Growth Institute will be presenting this study at many upcoming events. The first event will be a webinar on Tuesday, July 28th at 11 a.m.  More information is available:

About the Economic Growth Institute

The Economic Growth Institute has provided innovative economic development programming and applied research for more than 35 years. Through our work, we build more resilient businesses and communities, connect university innovations with small and medium-sized enterprises, and provide student learning experiences for the next generation of community and business leaders.

About American Center for Mobility

American Center for Mobility is a collaborative effort comprised of government, industry and academic organizations focused on accelerating the mobility industry through research, testing, standards development and educational programming. Located in Southeast Michigan on over 500-acres at the historic Willow Run site, the ACM offers a global smart city test center providing a safe platform for the integration and testing of emerging vehicle and mobility technologies, a technology park for the co-location of mobility companies and an event center for showcasing vehicle technologies and convening industry activities. For more information, visit