Ford Motor Co. officials Monday said that an increased emphasis is being placed on training for employees of auto stamping plants like Ford Motor Co.'s Woodlawn plant as a result of new technology and the fact that half of the current stamping employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
However, it's not certain that the increased emphasis will mean more money for training at the plant. Company officials said that more than $1 million annually is already being spent to train employees in the latest technology required as the result of a $260 million modernization of the plant and its equipment which has just been completed.
The focus on increased training has created a new organization, the North American Auto-Steel Curriculum Research Foundation comprised of representatives of the auto industry, labor unions and government officials from the U.S. and Canada.
Bernard Miscuk, a Ford industrial engineer who is chairman of foundation's Study Coordination Committee, said the first task of the organization has been to create a training curriculum which will be distributed in January to officials of plants like the Woodlawn facility.
"Rapid changes in technology and a decreasing number of workers means that people have to become more proficient," said Miscuk. "The age of specialization is gone. People are going to have to learn several skills."
"Up until now the training program has been spotty," he continued. "This will provide a road map, something management never had before."
Roman J. Krygier, stamping operations manager for Ford's Body and Assembly Operations, said that 50 percent of the company's stamping employees will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
"We have to upgrade skills for those replacement workers and we have to do it quickly," said Krygier, who is a former manager of the Woodlawn plant.