Professor: New Chrysler jobs won’t be easily filled

Chrysler has announced a multi-million dollar investment that will bring hundreds of new jobs to Central Indiana, but it will need help finding enough qualified workers to make it a reality.

The automaker has committed to investing $374 million in order to expand its transmission manufacturing. According to Chrysler, it will also create 1,200 new job openings in Howard and Tipton Counties.

“Today, we prove again that our past and our future is manufacturing in the state of Indiana,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence during the announcement on Thursday.

But as Indiana manufacturing moves into the future, Chrysler will have to work harder to fill the hundreds of jobs it’s promising.

“There’s not people readily available for these positions,” said Jeff Griffin, Director of the College of Technology at Purdue Kokomo.

Griffin said many people don’t realize Chrysler’s new transmission plants are more advanced than ever before. He said roughly half of the 1,200 new jobs will likely require some sort of advanced training.

“I think it’s a big problem for these companies when they want to expand,” Griffin said. “It’s hard to find these people. It’s not something people have been taught all along.”

Purdue is busy preparing to address that skills gap. They’ve already added a new faculty member for Mechanical Engineering Technology in Kokomo.

“Because of this announcement we’re revitalizing that program and updating it to meet more of (Chrysler’s) needs,” Griffin said.

Meeting the demand for those advanced manufacturing jobs won’t be easy. Griffin said it will take similar efforts from Ivy Tech and Indiana University Kokomo, to help prepare future employees specializing in everything from business to quality control.

“So it’s really a team that comes together to help a company like this,” Griffin said.

It’s a partnership all parties are invested in.

“I know that the jobs we are creating, with the support of state and local governments, will play an important role in boosting the area`s economy,” said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“When the workforce is educated, everybody wins,” Griffin said.

The College of Engineering at Purdue University has also been in talks with Chrysler on a research partnership related to the manufacturing expansion. Details are still being discussed.

5 comments

  • Tom Wade

    The forecast is correct in that the educational system was set up to prepare us for a stereotypical factory environment all the way down to answering bells. For a speedy turn-a-round we simply need to do aptitude testing to identify those with the mind set for the positions that need to be filled. Many of those are already working in factories they already have the ability to do these jobs they just need the chance. The way to spot them is that they are generally dissatisfied because they are not able to use talents and gifts that they have.

    The other part of this equation is to identify those who have been over-promoted and move them into positions that are more suited to their talents and abilities. To many times promotions are based on seniority or production which in reality have little or nothing to do with the skills needed in the new position.

    • Tom Wade

      I promise to never write another response at 2am nor will I enter it it without proofing it better.

      Hope my point comes across as written!

    • ClanSmokeJaguar

      >the educational system was set up to prepare us for a stereotypical factory environment

      The operative word here is "was"

      But not for a very, very long time. In fact since the term "global economy" (or before) it was introduced educators have stressed that learning how to put a bolt on a widget will no longer be enough. People were stressed to retool their skills from putting a rivet into a widget.

      Despite all the warnings, people have not availed themselves of something more than a mindless skill and this is the result.

  • Summyfun

    At any job you have to learn new work. I don't think there will be any problem. I'm glad to hear Kokomo is finally getting more jobs. Let's just hope they really come this time! There are very well qualified people there for the positions. They are all driving 1-3 hrs away for jobs now since jobs in the area have all left in recent years.

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