LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the Ford Motor Company, these are the faces of the future.  

They're recent local high school graduates who have become convinced their future is in the automotive industry. This summer, they've been part of a program called Ford Next Generation Learning or NGL.

It exposes them to what a job here at the Louisville Assembly Plant is all about and the benefits that come along with it: $15.78 starting pay, up to $6,000 per year tuition reimbursement, medical insurance, profit sharing and a retirement account -- an estimated $50,000 a year, right out of high school.

It convinced Josh Jansing to chose LAP over U of L.

"This job's always going to be in demand. I'm always going to have my job," Jansing said. "I could've gotten a degree in whatever I was going to get a degree in and not been able to find a job. So the jobs security here is pretty great."

Lexy McNary was going to become a mechanic, but she says that can't compete with the benefits she's getting here.

"Being a mechanic, I'm not going to get that, and that's just the real world," McNary said. "Which sucks, you know, wanting to do what you love, but I'm still working with cars even though I'm putting them together rather than fixing them."

McNary will also go after a two-year degree at JCTC while here, learning skills needed in today's manufacturing environment, like robotics and logistics.

"If you're working here, and I can make $30 an hour when I'm 26, why go to college, you know?"

It's that kind of thinking Ford is trying to get into the minds of students earlier by working with JCPS to expose young people to paths other than going to college right out of high school.    

The program is aimed at heading-off a predicted manufacturing crisis. It's estimated that between now and the year 2025, some two million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled.

"These students come in, and they're eager to learn, and they want to take on new responsibility and learn new things," said Cheryl Carrier, executive director of Ford Next Generation Learning. "They could do a number of things, and they could have a long career at Ford, make really good money, be very happy, and have great benefits."

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