Volkswagen of America plans to hire up to 2,000 workers by 2011 to staff its new $1 billion automobile plant in Chattanooga.
Most of those hired likely will receive at least some training in a facility that Chattanooga State Technical Community College plans to build at the Enterprise South Industrial Park next to the new VW plant.
Stefan Jacoby, president of VW of America, said Tuesday it’s too early to detail the wages or specific occupation levels. But he said whoever is hired will need to be skilled and trained for the new jobs. VW plans to assemble a new car model similar to the Passat at the plant.
“We are looking for highly educated talents,” Mr. Jacoby said. “We will make all efforts with the city and especially the state of Tennessee with their colleges to educate and train our people. It’s a new plant and a new vehicle and we, of course, have to make sure we have the highest quality.”
Most of those hired will be for blue-collar jobs to assemble the new mid-size sedan that VW plans for the U.S. market, Mr. Jacoby said. About 20 percent of the workers will be in white-collar jobs involved in engineering, human resources, training and management, he said.
Worker training “is one of the essential parts” of the new venture, Mr. Jacoby said.
Dr. Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State Technical Community College, said he told VW officials that Chattanooga has an adequate workforce and Chattanooga State will supply enough trained workers.
To help train workers for specific VW jobs, funds needed for a $6 million manufacturing training campus at Enterprise South already have been set aside by city, county, state and federal governments. The proposed 25,000-square-foot center would operate as another satellite of Chattanooga State and could be tailored to provide specialized training for a new auto plant, officials said.
“I think we’re going to need more money, and we’ll be talking with the governor’s staff about ramping that up,” Dr. Catanzaro said during the VW announcement Tuesday. “If you have 2,000 people in that plant alone — saying nothing about the suppliers — truly 1,900 of them would have to come through Chattanooga State in one form or another or in some state training program in areas like welding, machine-tool technology and industrial-tool technology.”
The new center should be open at least a year prior to the start of vehicle production, Dr. Catanzaro said.
“We’re going to begin work on this tomorrow morning,” he said.