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Ford expands US workforce

Ad up: Ford is using social media to attract new employees with 12,000 new jobs planned by 2015.

Strong US sales, global growth, behind Ford’s biggest recruitment drive in a decade

Ford logo1 Aug 2013

FORD’S resurgence in the United States has prompted the car giant to announce its largest salaried hiring initiative in 13 years, with 3000 white-collar employees to be added to the payroll by the end of this year.

This is 36 per cent more than previously announced as the Blue Oval “continues its product momentum and growth”, with the vast majority – 85 to 90 per cent – based in its home state of Michigan, and the rest to be spread across other facilities in the US.

While about 1200 factory workers in Australia will be cut in 2016 as Ford closes down its manufacturing operations here, the company is ramping up its American production lines, with 12,000 hourly jobs to be created by 2015.

Around 3000 of these new factory workers will be hired over the next 18 months to meet a surge in demand of key models such as the F-Series pick-up truck and Escape (Kuga) compact SUV.

In the first half of this year, Ford sales in the US were up 13 per cent to more than 1.25 million, with more than 367,000 of these for the F-Series (up 22 per cent) and 156,000 for Escape (up 23 per cent).

Among the professional staff vacancies, 80 per cent will be technical positions “to meet demand for new skills”. Business areas being targeted are product development, manufacturing, quality, purchasing and information technology.

The company also says that with only a 2.7 per cent attrition rate, the majority of these jobs are new.

“Our salaried hires are matching the growth we have seen on the hourly side,” said Ford’s group vice-president for human resources, Felicia Fields. “Ford is very much in a job creation mode right now.

“Engineers and technical professionals are in as much demand as our cars, trucks and SUVs.

“Global demand and increasing capacity in North America and Asia requires that we aggressively seek out technical professionals in order to continue our growth.”

 center imageLeft: Ford vice-president for human resources, Felicia Fields.

Rather than create jobs and increase its workforce in regional areas, the company is placing more emphasis on global operations controlled from the US, saying that “many of these positions will have a global impact as Ford continues to expand around the world”.

The extra 3000 white-collar jobs added this year – more than 1500 of which still are still vacant – follow 1850 salaried workers hired in the US last year.

As a result of the global financial crisis, Ford says it reduced its workforce by 13,000 salaried employees between 2006 and 2009.

To attract candidates, the company has launched a new recruitment drive with a large social media emphasis and the tagline: ‘The distance between you and an amazing career has never been shorter.’Ford Australia maintains that Dearborn remains fully supportive of its Australian product development operations and that its facilities in Broadmeadows (design and engineering), Geelong (research and development) and Lara (proving ground, testing facility) – which employ around 1000 people – will remain after it closes its Victorian factories in 2016.

Ford Australia president Bob Graziano told GoAuto in May, when the company announced its exit from local manufacturing, that Dearborn had “(not) lost confidence in Australia at all – quite the opposite”.

“If you look at the support that we get with respect to products, with respect to people that we have here, with respect to what role this organisation will have in terms of the broader Ford Motor Company going forward … I think it speaks volumes about the commitment the company has to Australia,” he said.

“There is no impact in terms of the size of the research and development organisation here. That same group of people have the capability to take on whatever work the Ford Motor Company needs them to take on.

“The plan right now is that they will remain what we call a ‘centre of excellence’, moving forward within the company, so they remain an important part of not only the broader product development organisation but also the test facility.”

Ford says it currently employs 68,500 people in the US, plus a further 146,690 across its 3283 dealers. Worldwide, it has about 177,000 employees and 65 assembly plants.

When it pulls out of Australian manufacturing, the company will have around 1500 employees here (not including dealership staff).

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