Toyota works to recruit manufacturing talent due to 'urgent need' for modern workforce
It fuels part of Kentucky's economy, but leaders in manufacturing say they're struggling to fill jobs.
Toyota Georgetown Quality Engineer Lindsey Grandy moved to Kentucky from Atlanta because of a "huge cultural difference."
“I came specifically to Kentucky for Toyota,” Grandy said, adding that Georgetown is “a lot slower and there are a lot more horses.”
Moving from a big city, she's slowed down a lot, but two things that aren't slow are the work happening inside Toyota’s labs and the cars she helps build.
“It's not slow at all here inside the Toyota walls,” Grandy said.
She enjoys her work, and that's why she sat on a panel Tuesday with Gov. Matt Bevin and other leaders in manufacturing. The panel is trying to change the way young people think about the industry to try to fill tens of thousands of open jobs. Incentives are being added for prospective engineers, and Toyota is showing off new technology and the cash young people could bring home. Average wages for employees in 2016 were $69,000, according to the Center for Manufacturing.
“Without accruing $200,000 of college debt, it suddenly makes a lot more sense to students and their parents,” said Jay Timmons, President and CEO of National Association of Manufacturers.
Bevin still wants to make the Commonwealth the epicenter for advanced manufacturing in America, even after a setback when Toyota chose not to build its new joint Toyota-Mazda Plant here in Kentucky.
“Whether it's duel credit in our high schools where we are allowing our high school students to start getting post-secondary education or whether it's coming alongside people and paying last dollars to get advanced degrees after high school,” Bevin said.
“No one company wants to have too much of their operations in one place, because they have the potential of not only cannibalizing their own workforce. But even from a supply chain standpoint, it's good to spread things out."
The Center for Manufacturing says the industry helped drive Kentucky's economy with nearly $30 billion of exported goods in 2016. To grow that number through 2018 and beyond, leaders in manufacturing say they're looking for more ways to attract young people like Grandy with fresh ideas to power the cars of the future.
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