GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Electric vehicles were a big talking point at the Michigan Auto Suppliers Symposium at the Grand Rapids Grand Valley State University Grand Rapids campus  Thursday.

“The big takeaway is that it’s looking like a good year for automotive, and there’s a lot of things changing right now as we try and move into a world that has more electric vehicles,” Paul Isley, an economic expert with GVSU, said.

Isley said that in the second half of this decade, cars with internal combust engines will account for less than half of cars purchased.

He said schools are gearing up to teach people the technical skills that will be needed as the EV industry continues to expand in places like Marshal, where a Ford EV battery plant will create around 2,500 jobs.

“The biggest problem is going to be actually finding the actual workers to do it, because we have fewer and fewer young people, and we have more and more old people retiring,” Isley said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke at the symposium, touting the state’s investments in the auto industry.

“In my State of the State, I put a notice out to other states that we are ready to compete for talent and business,” Whitmer said. “I want to broaden that. We need to tell the world what’s happening here in Michigan. I had an opportunity to travel overseas recently, and I was amazed at how many manufacturers know what we have here in Michigan and are interested in learning more and coming to this state.”

For the full conversation with Paul Isley, watch the video in the player above.