A top Volkswagen official in the city said Wednesday the automaker is putting systems in place to handle the up to 100,000 applications it expects to receive for production and other jobs.

"That's a key thing for us -- to make sure our systems are ready," said Ryan Rose, general manager for human resource services for Volkswagen's Chattanooga operation.

Based on similar-sized projects, VW is expecting between 80,000 and 100,000 applications once production jobs are opened up later this year for its auto assembly plant, he said.

VW officials are concerned about taking care of job seekers, Mr. Rose said.

"We really consider candidate care -- that everyone has a chance to apply and they know where they're at in the process," he said.

Volkswagen officials have hired just 5 percent of its planned 2,000 workers so far, and more of them are from Tennessee than any other state, said Mr. Rose.

"We're just crossing the starting line," he told the Chattanooga Association of Realtors about hiring for the plant that is to start production in early 2011.

force to get more local

He said VW is well under way in hiring its salaried work force -- engineers and purchasing and information technology employees.

"A lot of these early positions we really need people who have in certain key areas very specific backgrounds in automotive, manufacturing and building cars because they're going to help us train everybody else," Mr. Rose said.

As a result, he said, some were hired from outside of the city. Mr. Rose, who left a job with Toyota in San Antonio, Texas, said the automaker continues "to get more and more local."

He said VW hired a group of technicians about two weeks ago who have had experience building cars.

VW spokeswoman April Wortham said some of the local team members are in Wolfsburg, Germany, the company's world headquarters, helping to assemble prototypes for the new midsize sedan that will be made in Chattanooga.

"Not only are they assisting in the work, but the exercise serves as training for when they return to Chattanooga to begin assembling prototypes here," she said. "These team members can in turn train other local hires."

maintenance crews

Mr. Rose said VW plans to start bringing on skilled maintenance workers to take care of conveyors and robots inside the plant under construction at Enterprise South industrial park.

"We plan to start taking applications at the end of the summer or early fall," he said about the maintenance slots. "We'll begin hiring probably at the end of this year."

The bulk of the hiring will be on VW's production team, Mr. Rose said. Applications will be opened at the end of this year and start hiring early in 2010, he said.

By this time next year, Mr. Rose said VW should be hiring in all its major job classifications as it moves toward its work force goals, the VW official said.

Mr. Rose wouldn't give a range of how much assembly line workers would earn, but said it will be competitive and the figures along with benefit packages are slated to be released later this year.