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Auto Jobs: Land Of Opportunity?

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(credit: Ford Motor Co.)

(credit: Ford Motor Co.)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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TRAVERSE CITY (WWJ) – Car companies have been adding jobs — salaried and manufacturing — as the industry rebounds from one of the deepest downturns in decades. However, the hiring is expected to continue for many years to come.

Part of this has to do with increasing car and truck sales. But part has to do with the greying of the work force.

Honda, for example, starting building cars in the United States thirty years ago. The employees hired in the early eighties are now starting to approach retirement age.

Honda North America Senior Vice President Rick Shostek says the workers they are looking for now need special skill sets.

“Manufacturing really is a high-tech job these days,” he said. “So, we’re gonna be looking for a lot more of those networking type of skills, troubleshooting, and, of course, teamwork.”

Honda announcing that it’s going to open a special training center to help those that are in skilled positions hone those skills.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says the state is committed to providing a trained work force for the auto industry, but the needs are always changing.

“A lot of times parents and kids and people looking for those second career aren’t aware of what’s required to work in the auto industry. Now, in many cases, you need some skilled training to become a machinist, for example.”

The governor says the state is currently evaluating training programs to make sure they offer the type of training that’s needed.

While car companies get a lot of applicants, they carefully screen them to make sure they are a good fit.

Ford Vice President of Manufacturing Jim Tetreault says they hire about one of every thirty people who apply for a manufacturing job.

“We’re trying to make sure that we hire right people, that they’ll be successful in the jobs we put them on, that we train them properly, and they want to stay on the jobs.”

Tetrault says training is expensive, and they want to make sure that they make the investment in people who are going to stay a while.

The car companies are also reaching out to young graduates, particularly in Engineering, to let them know that an auto industry career can be rewarding.

“They’re all looking for creative ways to reach deeper into the educational environment to try to attract students earlier in their careers to automotive manufacturing jobs,” says Jeff Henning, Global Markets Leader Ernst and Young.

For auto supplier Faurecia, it’s a matter of creating opportunities for workers to grow. North America CEO Mike Heneka says they allow manufacturing workers to work their way up into management positions.

It’s a great way, he says, to attract people who are looking to grow.

“It’s not as glamorous as private equity in New York or Silicon Valley in California,” said Heneka. “We have to make it a little more exciting for people who want to make product.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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