There is an Associated Press story from over the weekend with the headline: "Auto Industry Poised for a Big Hiring Spree."
Read AP story: American auto industry expected to go on hiring spree
While it grabs everyone's attention in Metro Detroit, in many ways it is wishful thinking. Yes, the auto industry is hiring ... nationally. It is doing so ever so slowly and ever so carefully. Yes, there is pressure building for the automakers and their suppliers to tick up supplies of their vehicles and parts, but after crashing and burning in 2009 the industry does not want to hire too many hands and will only do so when forced.
So that means there are jobs to be had but the automakers are squeezing massive efficiencies out of their workers and will continue to do so out of fear of overreaching. Car companies will not say it publically but the cold hard truth is being a profitable carmaker is more important than one that isn’t making money but keeping up with temporary surges in demand. This is a high wire act worthy of the Walenda family, and one the automakers will willingly wear a safety harness, a belt and suspenders to stay securely profitable. Hire? Yes. Go on a hiring spree? No.
Here is the secret to automotive hiring, particularly in the blue collar arena. You go on the car company website and you fill out an application. From there the automaker steps back from the process. It has a third party company look at applications, call individuals for testing [urine and paper and pencil]. From there the qualified wind up in a “job pool." Many do not. Often times the only way a person even knows whether they have been put in the job pool is by getting the phone call on a Friday saying they need to report to a specific plant on Monday.
This method is one that puts some distance between the automaker the age old family and friend connections that helped people get jobs in the plants in the past. White collar workers usually have a more direct relationship in hiring and here in Michigan those are the jobs that are most available.
The automakers are exceptionally careful in telling prospective workers there are jobs available. For instance, right now in Michigan, Chrysler is saying it has no blue collar jobs available having just populated the Warren Truck Plant with a third shift. Ford says it has lots of white collar jobs available and some blue collar. GM has 1,500 white collar jobs coming to the Warren Tech center, but many will be filled by those relocating to Michigan as they move the information technology work from other parts of the country. Check the links here for the Ford, GM and Chrysler employment websites where you can get a look at what is available. Hiring is up five per cent over last year in the industry and is expected to continue into next year.
This is not a spree but it is a nice addition and offers hope to those looking for work in the auto industry. After speaking with those who know the process best, it is best if you have automotive experience too. There are no promises of jobs, it’s not easy, but it is possible. We are past the worst of times and headed for what will pass for the best of times.