I suspect many people outside manufacturing still believe that a factory job involves unskilled labor and doesn’t require much education.
That may have been true many years ago. But a recent presentation by Bruce Coventry, president of the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) for Chrysler Group, brought into sharp focus how much the situation has changed.
GEMA is an alliance of Daimler Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi. Together, they manufacture engines to be used by all three companies.
The result is not surprising.
And that’s the hourly workers. All of the salaried employees have bachelor’s degrees, and 29 percent of them have master’s degrees.
“GEMA is not your father’s factory,”
He noted that GEMA located a facility in Dundee, Michigan, rather than a low-cost southern state or foreign country, at least partly because more than 16,000 technical and associate degrees were awarded in Michigan in 2004 – two to four times as many degrees as were awarded that same year in Indiana, Mississippi or Alabama.
But he also voiced concern that
For its own part,
- Serving on curriculum boards at local community colleges to work on changes to the manufacturing curriculum.
- Providing plant tours to schools and government officials to raise awareness.
- Offering co-op and internship positions with local schools
- Conducting educational outreach programs at elementary schools.
I find that last point particularly fascinating, that a business is reaching down to the elementary school level to begin attracting workers.
Despite the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs in the
And maybe GEMA and other companies that are hiring will find what they need among the ranks of Ford's employees. I hear a lot of them are going to be available soon.