Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, on the verge of starting production on a new sport utility vehicle, is hitting the gas on its hiring plans.
Contract staffing company Aerotek, which is overseeing the hiring of new production employees for the plant, held a job fair Tuesday with hopes of seeing a couple of hundred prospects.
Mattie Moran, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's director of workforce development and education, said six more job fairs for VW are planned through Aug. 30. Another is slated for July 26 for key VW parts supplier Gestamp, she said.
A.J. Harris of Aerotek said the company wants to hire 900 to 1,200 more employees for VW, though he didn't know what time period they could be hired.
"It's all production [employees]," he said. "It's launching the new SUV."
Production employees who want to work at VW are first employed for a period to time by Aerotek before later being brought on by the automaker.
VW is spending $900 million, including $600 million in Tennessee, to expand its Chattanooga factory. The German automaker also said it planned to eventually add 2,000 more employees to its workforce, including at least 200 at its new national engineering and planning center.
Levi Miller of Monteagle Mountain, Tenn., said he learned about the job fair from his girlfriend's stepfather who has worked at VW for six years.
While currently working in a restaurant, he sees ultimately making more money at VW.
Aerotek jobs start at $13.50 an hour, but workers can make much more after officially joining VW.
Tim Bonner of Chattanooga, an artist and teacher, said he's looking to catch on with VW to get more work hours.
"I need full-time (work)," he said.
Annette Catchings of Chattanooga said she's looking at working at a job that looks to the future "and not going backwards."
VW plans to start SUV production by the end of the year and the vehicle is to hit dealerships early in 2017. The new vehicle is part of an SUV offensive the company has said it will unleash to gain more market share in the U.S.
Moran said that local jobs fairs are finding workers for employers. A spring job fair attracted 1,022 job seekers and engaged 75 regional employers, she said.
Preliminary results from 31 companies showed that 351 job seekers were hired as a direct result of interviews conducted at the job fair. Employers also indicated that they would hire 537 attendees within the next six months, Moran said.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.