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3 Points on the Future of Automotive Jobs

Chris Allen, Gray’s Executive Vice President for the Automotive Market, provides his thoughts on a recent article from CNN.

Open Road

CNN released an article about a recent study by The Center for Automotive Research stating that automotive manufacturers and automotive suppliers are expected to hire about 200,000 workers in the Midwest by 2015. While I think the article does a good job discussing this study, there are a 3 points I would like to raise.

     1) First off, this article points towards news that every American wants to hear; more manufacturing jobs are on the way. The numbers from C.A.R. are certainly uplifting and I hope their estimates are met or exceeded.

  The Center for Automotive Research, a respected Michigan think tank, estimates that automakers and auto parts suppliers will likely need to hire about 200,000 workers by 2015 in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the nation’s auto belt that has seen massive job losses in recent years.

     2) While this article focused on automotive manufacturing in the Midwest, there are other regions of the US continuing to see positive changes in manufacturing. The $1 billion investment by Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tenn. is certainly an example to look towards. The Volkswagen plant created more than 2,000 direct jobs and totally transformed the surrounding community. The continued growth of the BMW facility in Greenville, S.C., originally built in 2009, is another key example from the automotive sector. With companies like Siemens and Mitsubishi expanding their wind energy divisions in the Western and Southern regions and Caterpillar  and Austal expanding their heavy manufacturing capacities in the Southeast, it’s evident manufacturing is still vibrant.

The bigger gains will come from the increased hiring from auto parts suppliers, along with some additions at Midwest facilities of overseas automakers.

     3) The article pointed out how most of the job gains would be spread across automotive suppliers rather than be concentrated in large manufacturing operations. I have certainly seen how automotive suppliers such as Johnson Controls, NHK, and Howa can provide valuable new jobs to a community. However, I don’t think you can underestimate the effects of the development or expansion of a major manufacturer.

Dziczek said a big part of the problem is that so many of the people who lost jobs took early retirement packages and many aren’t likely to return to the labor force. And there aren’t as many experienced manufacturing workers sitting around still looking for jobs.

     4) An important point was raised about the skills gap in manufacturing. The demand for advanced manufacturing skills has accelerated at an incredible pace over the past decade. There is now a greater demand for workers with the specialized training required to design, install, operate, and maintain advanced manufacturing equipment.

The December issues of the Gray Construction newsletter, the GrayWay, will be posted to our website next week and will feature articles on this very issue. Be sure to stop by the page and check out the issue: /news/grayway


    December 07, 2011

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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