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Jobs to flow from fresh car support

Taxpayer grant: South Australian firm Numetric has secured government funding to go towards the production of engine mounts for Toyota's next-gen Camry hybrid.

Auto suppliers win new funding while Holden creates jobs for long-term unemployed

General News logo23 May 2011

MORE than 50 new jobs in the automotive industry will be created in South Australia as part of joint state and federal ‘innovation and investment’ funding of $6.1 million announced last week.

Among the 11 funding recipients announced last Thursday – drawn from renewable energy sectors and manufacturing and engineering industries – were automotive component suppliers Numetric Manufacturing and SMR Automotive.

Based in Wingfield, Numetric specialises in production machining of cast or extruded components, assembly and powder coating.

In the latest round of grants issued under the $30 million South Australia Innovation and Investment Fund, Numetric has received $287,500 to help purchase machinery to make engine mounts for Toyota’s next-generation Camry Hybrid.

The total investment is listed at $575,000 and, according to the application details, is expected to create 14 full-time jobs. The new machinery will also have the versatility to support other industries such as rail, defence and mining.

As GoAuto reported last week, Numetric already supplies cast iron engine mounts for the Australian-made Camry and Aurion, and expects to produce up to 135,000 units a year for Toyota’s factory in Altona, Victoria, once the new-generation Camry is up and running from late this year.

80 center imageLeft: Numetric's headquarters in Adelaide. Below: TAFE program participants on the job at Holden's Elizabeth plant.

Meanwhile, Lonsdale-based SMR Automotive, which has already received a $2.5 million grant to produce hi-tech plastic exterior door mirrors under the federal government’s Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF), has received a further $500,000 under the SA fund to enable it to diversify into the medical devices industry.

The total diversification program is worth an estimated $1.7 million and is expected to create an additional 37 full-time jobs.

The supplier grants were announced on the same day GM Holden received a further $39.8 million GCIF grant, this time for its next-generation Commodore, which federal industry and innovation minister Kim Carr said will help create 250 new engineering jobs at Holden and underpin 4500 jobs in total at the company.

While visiting SMR Automotive to announce its latest funding win, Senator Carr said: “The South Australian economy took a hit in 2008 following closure of Mitsubishi at Tonsley Park. The Australian and (SA) state governments responded by establishing this $30 million fund, which will attract almost $143 million in further investment to the state.

“The investment we are announcing today will help SMR Automotive diversify into medical device manufacturing, helping its business to thrive and generate 37 new jobs.” The $6.1 million commitment in the latest round of South Australian funding is expected to leverage a total investment of about $22.5 million.

More jobs are anticipated in the Australian auto sector after Senator Carr revealed to GoAuto last week that “significant” projects were still in the pipeline under the GCIF, worth an estimated $140 million, despite the fund being axed earlier this year.

In related news, Holden has hired 24 long-term unemployed people from Adelaide’s northern suburbs as part of a TAFE-based pre-employment program jointly developed by the car-maker and the SA government.

A 10-week course was devised for participants to develop skills such as literacy and numeracy, occupational health and safety, interview skills and equipment operation.

Following the TAFE course, program participants gained on-the-job training as part of a two-week work placement at Holden’s Elizabeth assembly plant.

Holden said eight participants passed the Holden recruitment assessment at the end of the program and had started 12-month contracts with the company.

A further 16 graduates of the program have gained three-month contracts at Holden through the Australian Financial and Career Consortium, which provides contract labour services.

Holden director of vehicle operations Richard Phillips said the program provided an opportunity for Holden “to work with our local community and provide real-world training and employment opportunities”.

“It is definitely a program we would like to run again and we hope our success at Holden will encourage other companies and organisations to start similar programs with TAFE SA,” he said.

“The program would not have been successful without the partnership between the government, industry and the unions. It is testament to what can be achieved when all stakeholders are working together.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary John Camillo welcomed the chance to give long-term unemployed people “the opportunity, skills and knowledge to gain employment at Holden”.

“Being actively involved in the process from day one, the AMWU saw the positive flow-on effect that could be created for other employers and industries,” he said. “This has been a great result for all participants of the project.”

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