Germany’s electronics and IT industry association, the VDE, fears a shortage of qualified engineers will hurt the country’s efforts to play a leading role in developing electric vehicles.

Eight out of 10 electronics and IT companies are worried that they won’t be able to recruit enough electrical engineers, said Hanz Heinz Zimmer, the head of the VDE.

“For that reason, they’re already relying on graduates in related disciplines,” Zimmer said at a VDE conference.

The association chairman said the shortage of engineers will worsen by 2020, when companies will have only about 9,000 graduates a year to recruit from. “That’s definitely not enough,” he said.

According to an internal survey, 67 percent of all VDE member companies feel that universities are not properly prepared for the era of electro-mobility. Fifty-six percent of the members are particularly concerned about research capabilities in Germany.

“Education and the availability of young engineers are crucial for the future of Germany as an industrial location,” said Zimmer. “We urgently need to invest more in r&d in the areas of electric vehicles and the smart grid,” he added. “If not, we’ll be looking at the tail lights of our foreign competitors.”