As new generations of students are increasingly told that obtaining a 4-year college degree is the only path to a better life, the automotive industry in the US may suffer from a shortage of qualified candidates to work in manufacturing.
Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky is trying to change that, according to The Courier-Journal, with a new program which allows area high school graduates to try working at the facility for a summer. Participating teens worked 10-hour shifts two or three days a week, gaining real-world experience in a manufacturing position in the process, with the hope that after it was over, some of the recent graduates might want to return.
“We’re in a manufacturing crisis,” says Ford Workforce Development Coordinator Tami Hatfield. “Between now and 2025, there will be 2 million jobs that go unfilled just because we don’t have the necessary people to go into these jobs once they’re available.”
That’s despite manufacturing positions at Ford carrying a $15.78-per-hour starting wage, 401(k) plans, college tuition reimbursement up to $6,000 per year, and employer-provided health insurance after 90 days. “If we’re facing a problem with jobs making $15.78 an hour, what are all the other manufacturers in our area facing as well?” Hatfield added.