Electromobility has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, with electric cars accounting for a growing share of the automotive market. According to EV-Volumes, a total of 10.5 million new BEVs and PHEVs were delivered in 2022, up 55% from 2021. The growing popularity of electric cars is making them a more frequent sight on Polish roads – the latest data from the Polish Alternative Fuels Association and the Polish Automotive Industry Association shows that there were over 80,000 electric passenger cars registered in Poland at the end of June 2023. This is up from less than 51,000 a year ago. A natural consequence of these changes is the creation of new jobs for e-mobility specialists.
Poland is a Significant Player in the Global Lithium-ion Battery Market
With the general development of electromobility in Poland, there is one sector that is definitely coming to the fore. We are talking about lithium-ion batteries.
“Poland is a significant player in the electromobility market, with a special role in the battery manufacturing sector, which is its leading export commodity. The latest data from the National Bank of Poland (NBP) show that battery exports reached PLN 15.3 billion in Q1 2023, accounting for 3.7% of total exports. These figures clearly show how much influence the e-mobility sector has on thePolish economy” reports Agnieszka Ura, Quality Director at GTHR Poland.
Forecasts for the coming years predict that Poland will maintain its high position in the lithium-ion battery supply chain. According to BNEF, by 2027, six of the ten leading countries in terms of battery production will be European countries, with Poland and Hungary expected to increase their production capacity and maintain their high positions, ranking 6th and 4th, respectively.
Up to 4 Million New Jobs
The dynamic development of the electromobility market, and especially its battery manufacturing branch, is naturally associated with an increasing number of new jobs.
“According to estimates by the European Commission, the development of the battery market will lead to an increase of 4 million new jobs by 2025. Particularly important in this process is the training of a cadre of engineers with the qualifications and skills required to work at different stages of the battery life cycle: from raw material extraction to recycling. Technicians, managers and manual workers are also key employees in terms of the sustainability of the battery market.” says Maria Majewska, Coordinator of the Polish Alternative Fuels Association Battery Committee, and adds,“Introducing instruments to improve the qualifications of personnel in this area can bring tangible benefits to the Polish economy. It is therefore necessary to strengthen cooperation between academia and business, and vocational and engineering curricula in Poland should focus on learning integrated and process thinking.”
For Poland, the optimistic scenario related to the development of electromobility assumes up to 6,000 new jobs in the coming years (Polish Alternative Fuels Association, „Europe runs on Polish lithium-ion batteries”).
Where to look for jobs in electromobility?
The e-mobility market includes not only the production of electric cars, but also upstream tasks. Jobs in Poland can be found, among others, in the aforementioned production of batteries for electric cars. For example, the Lower Silesia region is home to Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant, LG Energy Solution Wrocław. In addition to this, Lower Silesia is home to a plant that is a joint investment by two Chinese electromobility giants (Zhangjiagang Guotai-Huarong New Chemical Materials Co., Ltd. and Jiangsu Ruitai New Energy Materials Co., Ltd.), which this year announced its readiness to mass-produce the electrolyte needed to make lithium-ion batteries. This means that within a year the Prusice plant will be able to supply half a million batteries.
“Poland is a good spot for foreign investors due to its excellent location in the center of Europe. Our company is an example of this. We already employ 120 people and are regularly looking for new specialists, including production engineers, electrical technicians and laboratory workers. We hope that in the next few years we will be able to complete the planned investments, which will of course involve the need to hire more qualified specialists” says Aneta Dudała, Coordinator of the HR and Administration Department at GTHR Poland.
In addition, jobs can also be found in the extraction of necessary raw materials, the creation of charging station infrastructure or recycling. New EU regulations may indicate that new jobs will soon be coming, especially in the latter branch. On July 10, the Council of the European Union adopted a regulation that strengthens regulations on recycling used batteries. One of the goals of the changes is to move toward a closed-loop economy. This means maximizing the reuse of raw materials. For example, lithium (one of the main materials for batteries) is to be recovered 50% by 2027 and 80% by 2031.
“Electromobility is now one of the key directions of global change to take care of the environment. The need for professional management of used electric cells is one of the elements on this path. Elemental Strategic Metals, part of the global leader in urban mining – the Elemental Holding group of companies – is building an ultra-modern plant for the recovery of strategic metals from Li-ion batteries, in Zawiercie, Poland, first in this part of Europe. The plant will ultimately process 50,000 tons of Li-ion batteries per year,” says Ireneusz Konarski, Director of Sales Strategy and Market Development at Elemental Strategic Metals.
Elemental Holding has for many years been developing a global network for the collection of electro- waste and recovery of platinum group metals, as well as the refining of valuable components from, among other things, Li-ion batteries. Production of strategic metals in Poland will make it possible to become independent of importing these raw materials from abroad. Rare earth metals, such as lithium, palladium, platinum and rhodium, are essential for the production of modern technologies. The cost of the investment in Zawiercie is more than €150 million, and the plant is scheduled to open at the end of 2023. About 200 people will be employed in the first stage, but the target workforce will be 350. Both technical staff will be sought: masters, mechanics, electricians, automation specialists, metallurgists, as well as production workers.