As the global electric vehicle (EV) battery market continues to grow rapidly, competition is intensifying among EV battery companies to secure excellent human resources.
Battery makers in China and Europe are scrambling to attract talented EV battery engineers from Korean companies, raising concerns about Korea’s EV battery technologies being leaked to the outside.
The Evergrande New Energy Automobile Group of China has recently begun to recruit 8,000 workers in all sectors of its new energy vehicle business, including EV batteries. The newly hired employees will work in nine countries including China, Korea, Japan, Germany and Sweden.
Northvolt, an EV battery latecomer in Europe, has reportedly recruited LG Chem and Panasonic engineers. The Swedish company recently garnered much industry attention as it has established a battery joint venture with Volkswagen, Germany. Northvolt announced on its website that more than 30 Korean and Japanese engineers are working at Northvolt, playing a pivotal role in its battery research team set up in early 2017.
Global battery makers, including those in China, are attracting Korean engineers with salary offers that are up to four times the amounts they earn in Korea. The outflow of high-caliber human resources from the Korean EV battery industry is becoming a serious issue with the growth of the EV market.
In fact, China’s CATL, the world's No. 1 EV battery maker, approached Korean engineers through headhunters in July and offered to pay them more than three times their annual salaries.
In 2017, China's BYD announced that it would recruit Korean battery engineers by proposing performance-based bonuses, year-end bonuses, company cars and subsidies for automobile purchase, and single-person rooms in its company dormitory apart from annual salaries.
Industry insiders expect that demand for human resources will hit thousands of people as production of EV batteries increases and each EV battery maker is ramping up investment.
Another problem is such talent leaks can lead to a technology outflow. The global EV battery market is expected to increase from 59GWh in 2017 to 10,000GWh in 2025, market research firm SNE Research forecast.
"When foreign battery companies hire people, they target Korea first as Korea has skilled workers." an EV battery industry official said. “Chinese companies are most active in taking out Korean engineers and European companies are also keen to attract them.”