Global demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is booming. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), more than 10 million EVs were sold in 2022. For context, this exceeds the total number of cars sold across the European Union over the same period by almost 10 percent. EV sales are projected to grow by an added 35% in 2023, despite ongoing supply chain challenges. As national governments impose new policies restricting the sales of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles over the next two decades, the EV trend is expected to accelerate even further. By 2040, all new vehicles sold in British Columbia should be zero-emission vehicles.
EV manufacturers are working to source effective supply chains to meet this growing global demand. Key technical talent across product design, engineering, and manufacturing will be critical too, not only for delivering on current needs but also for innovating and discovering the technology required for the vehicles of tomorrow.
Here in Surrey, we have a strong and diverse talent pool primed to meet the demand for specialized skills in the EV sector. Specialized companies and organizations in Surrey already play a significant role in this growing ecosystem, from actuators and valve technologies to battery systems optimization and sensor technologies. As home to world-class universities, Surrey is paving the road for future EV innovators.
KPU Tech: Upskilling Automotive Technicians for EVs
Kwantlen Polytechnic University is actively engaged in training the next generation of EV technology talent.
The school will soon be offering an EV Maintenance Training Program at its KPU Tech campus in Cloverdale. Through the university’s Automotive Service Technician (AST) program, students will gain the theoretical and practical skills needed to diagnose, repair, and maintain electric vehicles. They will learn about electric motors and controllers, charging systems and infrastructure, hybrid vehicle systems, battery management systems, and high-voltage safety procedures.
It's anticipated that each cohort in the automotive program will consist of up to 16 students. Upon completing the level 4 class and graduating, students can write their interprovincial Red Seal exam through SkilledTradesBC. KPU is expecting growth in the coming years as there is a marked need for an increased number of skilled trades workers. Each student who successfully completes an apprenticeship level or their full Red Seal interprovincial certification helps to address that need.
This isn’t just for students entering the automotive industry for the first time. Seasoned professionals can benefit too. Kwantlen will also be launching a pilot program for existing Red Seal automotive technicians who wish to upgrade their skills in electric vehicle maintenance.
KPU is currently working closely with Surrey School District (SD36) and other districts to connect high school students and foster interest in the industry among young people. Students can attend a 21-week program at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary and KPU Tech, earning a SkilledTradesBC Certificate of Qualification, a KPU Certificate of Completion, and credit for five high school courses.
SFU Surrey: Specializing in Mechatronics and More
Among the world-class offerings at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey Campus are several programs specializing in clean transportation technologies and trades. Of note is the school’s globally ranked Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) program, one of very few in Canada. Specializations at the Surrey campus, particularly energy management systems, are highly coveted by electric vehicle manufacturers. The dedicated Battery and Power Systems Engineering Lab conducts cutting-edge research on battery materials, electrochemistry, thermal management, power electronics, and energy storage systems.
The multidisciplinary field of mechatronics engineering aligns with the core components of EV development. With cross-sectional expertise in these fields, recent graduates are highly sought after by potential employers.
The School of Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) is also home to a dedicated auto shop with specialized training equipment for students pursuing an interest in building electric vehicle technologies. Completed in 2019, the new Sustainable Energy Engineering Building in Surrey City Centre houses the first accredited energy engineering program in Western Canada. The LEED Gold Certified building was designed as a living showcase for sustainable building standards. Research and education here support clean technology with a focus on renewable and sustainable energy.
Graduates from the SEE and MSE programs are excited to address the emerging needs of an increasingly EV-driven future. The student-led Team Phantom is working on building a Formula ASE electric vehicle. SFU graduates Sheldan Manansala and Rachel George now work at Tesla as quality engineers and technical program managers, respectively. Mechatronics graduate Megan Mogouei found the program’s mandatory co-op program particularly helpful in landing her current career as a project engineer on shifting systems at General Motors.
Existing Local Talent at Innovative Local Companies
Graduates from relevant programs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University are earning career opportunities and applying their skills and knowledge at innovative companies right here in Surrey too. As the ecosystem continues to expand and evolve, so does the rapid pace of innovation tying right back into the growing EV sector.
Several local technology sector companies provide critical components to the EV market. These thriving companies attract highly valued talent here, further expanding Surrey into a robust hub for EV technology and innovation.
Genesis Advanced Technology develops cutting-edge actuators and valve technologies.
CCI Canadian Circuits creates printed circuit boards, including specialization in the automotive space.
Electrum Charging Solutions specializes in EV charging infrastructure and energy management, including established partnerships with Translink, Tesla, and Porsche.
Powertech Labs, a BC Hydro subsidiary, is one of the largest clean energy testing and research laboratories in North America.
RecycLiCo Battery Materials, formerly American Manganese, is giving EV batteries new life by revolutionizing the recycling process for lithium-ion batteries.
Transferable Expertise from Other Relevant Sectors in Surrey
Surrey is home to education, training, research, and enterprise that specifically targets the rapidly growing EV sector. The city is also home to several relevant sectors where the high-value talent has skills and knowledge that are transferable and relevant to the EV sector too. Sectors in Surrey that continue to grow include:
Advanced manufacturing: One of Surrey’s fastest-growing sectors, companies in advanced manufacturing can pivot to offer the precision needed for critical EV components.
Agri-technology: Sensor technologies used in precision agriculture offer real-time data collection that can be applied to EVs.
Clean technology: Expertise in fuel cell component manufacturing and other clean technology verticals can be expanded to apply to fully electric vehicles.
Digital information and communications technology (ICT): Skills from this industry can be used to develop user-friendly charging platforms and data analytics tools for EV usage patterns.
Health technology: Expertise in medical device development can lend itself to the development of EV battery design and production.
Surrey's EV Technical Talent Is Gaining Traction
Surrey has a strong talent pool with relevant skills that can be applied to the EV sector. World-class training and education at KPU Tech and SFU Surrey are producing graduates who are eager and well-positioned to tackle the EV industry today and well into the future. The city’s rapid growth and diverse workforce make it an attractive location for companies in the EV space to grow and thrive. With current talent and the transfer of talent from related industries, the potential for growth in Surrey’s EV sector is on the rise. If you’re looking to start or expand your business in Surrey, our team is here to help.