YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A university in Ohio is taking steps to be on the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution by making a commitment to help train a specialized workforce for the emerging industry. 

What You Need To Know

  • Youngstown State University is partnering with Foxconn to create a national workforce training and innovation center

  • The center will focus on supplying skilled employees for the electric vehicle industry

  • The curriculum will be designed to help meet the needs of the emerging electric vehicle industry on a national scale

Youngstown State University announced Wednesday a partnership with electric vehicle manufacturer Foxconn to design a national workforce training and innovation center to help address the skills gap. 

“We don’t want to wait,” said Jennifer Oddo, executive director of workforce education and innovation for Youngstown State University. “We know that industry won’t wait and they need the talent now.”

In May, Taiwan-based Foxconn purchased the former Lordstown Motors Facility, where commercial production is underway for the Endurance, a full-size electric pickup truck. 

Due to the rising interest in electric vehicles, Rick Rajaie, a vice president of operations for Foxconn, said there’s an urgent need for a solid pipeline of employees in a variety of positions. The company is hoping to attract a wide interest through the announced training facility. 

“We do not have the luxury of just training a certain group of local students here and hope for the best. We have to exercise and entertain all options,” Rajaie said. 

Oddo said the plan is to bring together national stakeholders to hear their needs for the program before determining a location for the training center. Rajaie said there are buildings on Foxconn’s Lordstown campus that could serve as the training site. They hope to have a plan in place in the next few months. 

Oddo said there’s no set timeline for the launch of the training curriculum, but she hopes to start quickly, possibly launching the program in different phases. 

“I think these companies know we know how to build a workforce,” she said. “Ohio knows how to build a workforce, so we have to capture that leadership to show the rest of the country that we’re ready for it.”

Oddo said university faculty already developed an online distribution system for training that could be adapted to this type of center, which could help facilitate a fast transition.

She estimated it will cost between $65-$75 million to bring the project to life, including building, construction, equipment, curriculum, etc. She said federal and state funds, as well as private funding, will help finance the training center.