DETROIT — On the day CEO Mary Barra outlined the largest round of job cuts and plant shutdowns in nearly a decade last week, General Motors also was having an orientation for new hires around the corner.

Such a juxtaposition has become common for GM as Barra and her executive team implement billions of dollars in cost-cutting measures in preparation for the next economic downturn and shift the company’s focus toward costly, emerging technologies such as autonomous and fully electric vehicles. Shrinking its employee ranks is part of the plan, especially on the manufacturing side of its business, but GM also is sending a message that it’s working to change the makeup of the work force that remains.

“We are going to continue to hire, because when we look at the skill sets that we need for the future, the vehicle has become much more software-oriented, when you think about the hundreds of millions of lines of code that are in a vehicle that operates today,” Barra told reporters. “That’s only going to increase.”

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  1. The most recent actions included plans to cut 15 percent of its 54,000 North American salaried jobs, including a quarter of its global executives, and to end production at five North American plants in 2019, when it will discontinue the Chevrolet Cruze and five other cars. GM said it also would close two unidentified plants elsewhere in the world by the end of next year.

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