Automakers and Tech Giants Compete for Self-Driving Talent

Automakers and Tech Giants Compete for Self-Driving Talent

General Motors is seeing a marked increase in job applications, and its recent investments in high-tech firms like the autonomous-vehicle startup Cruise Automation may have something to do with it, Joann Muller reports at Forbes:

GM usually sees about 27,000 white-collar applicants globally each month, but in April, nearly 35,000 people applied for non-factory jobs. Most apply for more than one position, so the number of applications submitted also jumped, from the usual 50,000 to nearly 68,000. It’s hard to say whether the March 11 Cruise Automation deal for a reported $1 billion – or GM’s $500 million investment in the Lyft car-sharing service two months earlier – contributed to the surge, but GM Chief Executive Mary Barra thinks so.

“Quite frankly,” she said in an interview, “it has changed the conversation about GM,” which will hire 27,000 salaried professionals worldwide over the next five years. The moves signaled to outsiders that a resurgent GM intends to be a leader in advanced technologies and future mobility, she said.

Amid a fierce talent war for IT professionals, software and electronics engineers and other scientists, GM is also getting more proactive about hiring, assigning a former human resources executive from Google to head up global talent acquisition.

Speaking of Google, as the race to dominate the emerging self-driving car market heats up, Google announced on Wednesday that it was establishing a 53,000-square-foot development center for automated vehicle technology in Novi, Michigan, a short hop from GM’s hometown of Detroit. Recode’s Johana Bhuiyan sees the strategic value in this choice of location:

Automakers have flocked to Silicon Valley to set up research and development centers, which gives them access to tech talent vying for the likes of Tesla and Google. Google, in this case, is employing a similar strategy.

As automakers work to transform themselves into “mobility companies” and Silicon Valley makes more inroads into disrupting transportation, signs that these sectors are fishing in the same talent pools should come as no surprise.